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(Unedited) Podcast Transcript 330: Main Street

April 21, 2021

This week we’re joined by Dr. Mindy Fullilove, Professor of Urban Policy and Health at The New School, to talk about her book Main Street: How a City’s Heart Connects Us All. Dr. Fullilove chats about the psychology of place, the strength of weak ties, and how cities are a part of nature.

Jeff Wood (1m 42s):
Well, Dr. Mindy Fullilove welcome to the talking headways podcast.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (2m 5s):
Thank you for having me.

Jeff Wood
Well, thanks for being here before we get started. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Dr. Mindy Fullilove
Yes. I’m a social psychiatrist and I’m a professor of urban policy and health at the new school. And I’ve been at the new school since 2016. Before that I worked at New York state psychiatric Institute and I was on faculty at Columbia university. And what got you interested in place? I got interested in place because I was studying epidemics, starting with the AIDS epidemic. And I was looking at what was going on in poor and minority communities. And this was in sort of late eighties and early nineties. They were just devastated. And so the issue of why were devastated places, places where people had a lot of behaviors that put them at risk for illness was what I didn’t understand.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (2m 53s):
So that’s what got me interested. And so I started studying what people call the psychology of place. And, you know, one thing led to another,

Jeff Wood (3m 2s):
How has the psychology of a place connected to the physical of a place?

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (3m 6s):
Well, the psychology of the place is in the people’s heads. So the physical place is outside. So a place that geographers particularly have said is a bounded bit of space. So space is everything. Then there are little bits of it that have a boundary. So the room you’re in the room, I’m in, these are places, but the room you’re in is in a building and the room I’m in is a building. And then the building is somewhere. So all of those are places once you’ve set the boundary. So when you’re thinking about place, you have to think about the boundary. And then obviously there are within any boundary, like within a house, there are rooms in a house or apartments and apartment buildings, et cetera.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (3m 47s):
So there are lots of little places beside each other, even if I’m in the state of New Jersey, there’s 49 other States. So gets to be complicated because I have to think about, wait, my place is located at such such place, but there are parallel places, almost like parallel universes. And in place, once you set the boundary, everything inside, that is the place. So all the physical, all the social, all the psychological is part of what’s going on. It’s very complicated.

Jeff Wood (4m 17s):
And now you got me thinking now about all of these parallel universes that are happening well, you know, I’ve often thought about that in terms of, you know, we operate in our spaces, in our neighborhoods, in our, in our homes. And I often think, Oh, well, you know, and you go and visit another space. And it’s kind of strange to think about this space operates as it does every day daily, but I’m not here, I’m in another place, but this is operating and I have no recollection or understanding of what’s going on there. And so there’s kind of something interesting to think, but it’s almost like an out-of-body experience to a certain extent you go somewhere and you’re like, this place exists all the time, but I don’t experience it all the time.

Jeff Wood (5m 6s):
Yeah. I agree. I want to step back a little bit to your previous work. We’re going to talk a little bit about main street, which is your most recent book, but I want to ask you about root shock because I think it’s a really important kind of precedent to what we’re going to talk about today. What brought you to write the book and you know, what is root shock, I guess for folks that might not know

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (5m 11s):
What, if we start with the other question first, we’ll arrive at what is rich. And so I was studying the psychology of place. And so psychiatry is about disorder and illness. So I was very interested in things that had made people ill, but one of the ways I studied it was to just ask people about their experiences of place, their stories, but a set of stories that came up over and over again were stories of people who had been displaced by urban renewal, which was a program in the U S in the fifties and sixties to people were particularly important in helping me understand urban renewal. One was David Jenkins who had been displaced from his community at age 11.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (5m 53s):
And the other was Mary Bishop, a journalist who’d written about urban renewal in Roanoke. So they really were the people who oriented me to what had happened in urban renewal. It was such a big experience. And it seemed to me, it was like pulling a plant out of the ground and gardeners have a term for what can happen to a plant if you just yank it out of the ground, because it tears the roots and it can go into shock and they call that root shock. And it seemed to me that what had happened to people who’d been rudely displaced from their homes was this kind of experience of rude shock. And, you know, it was unsettling. It disturbed their growth.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (6m 33s):
Some people got settled again, but some people couldn’t and they died. So was recheck. That really became the image that I had for the massive disruption that this causes in people’s lives.

Jeff Wood (6m 44s):
Yeah. And it seems like it’s a kin to brain damage to a certain extent. Recently, we had a discussion with Andre. about a weak ties and connecting people and jobs to commerce. He was on a show a couple of weeks ago. And after reading your book, I felt like it’s much more than that. It feels like these disruptions of weak ties through the urban renewal through dispersal tactics are akin to this brain damage. Why is it that these weak ties are so much more important than maybe, you know, many of us understood before

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (7m 12s):
People talk about it. And in fact, Mark Granovetter, who’s one of the sociologists who really described weak ties, talks about it really as paradox, the strength of weak ties is the title of his classic article. Why would weak ties be what’s strong, but in a society, strong ties actually are what make us weak and weak ties are what make us strong. So that’s the paradox. So the strong ties or the ties of like we share religion, or we share race, or we share neighborhood. Those are strong ties, but weak ties are like the guy you’re on a nodding acquaintance with, at the local convenience store. And you don’t know his name. You never been to his house, but he knows you’re part of the neighborhood. And if you were, you know, during checkout complaining that, you know, it was hard to get somebody to shovel your sidewalk.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (7m 57s):
He would know somebody who was looking for work and he would say, I’ll send somebody by, you could hire that person to shovel your sidewalk. That’s a weak tie. And it’s those because they bridge communities, bridge groups have strong ties that makes society strong. So when you do urban renewal or something like that, you damage the way society functions, how societies have to work. People have to work together because they constantly have to solve problems. Whatever was going on yesterday, created today. But today is new issues. You know, for us personally, for us as families, there’s always new issues. There’s like when your kid is a toddler, you can’t get them to take a bath or go to bed. But when your kid is a teenager, you can’t get up to bath or go to bed, different issues, different strategies to keep up with the kid.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (8m 43s):
So the kid changes every day and you got to have new strategies every day. So the families have to be able to do problem solving same with societies. They have to problem solve for today. But if you’ve broken all the weak ties, you can’t have a good conversation. So society can’t solve his problems. And that’s where us society is right now broken the weak ties. And we can’t have good conversations and we can’t solve our problems. What’s

Jeff Wood (9m 6s):
The main way that we’ve broken weak ties.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (9m 8s):
It’s not a main way. It’s that we keep uprooting communities over and over. So urban renewal in the fifties, there was a program called planned shrinkage, which was disinvestment. De-industrialization where we just knocked the economy out from all of our industrial cities. So it’s multiple programs over time. Think about COVID all the people who are, have lost their jobs and their jobs may not come back. And they’re facing eviction because we’ve hardly had any disaster relief for people. So they have to move. Cause there’s, I mean, at some point they said 40 million people were at risk of eviction in the United States.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (9m 48s):
Well move 40 million people and see what happens to your society. It’s pretty devastating.

Jeff Wood (9m 53s):
The thing doesn’t make sense to me, the evictions, just because if there’s so many people that are out of work and they can’t move, or they’re not going to move and they want to stay in their homes, if you push them out and all of those people are pushed out at the same time, how are you going to feel like the idea of the landlord wants to, you know, recoup their expenses, but how are they going to get somebody else to fill that space? If so many people are out getting moved out, is it just going to be a mass shuffling? I just haven’t. I haven’t comprehended yet. Why? I mean, I understand individual circumstances, I guess, but on a global scale, maybe people just aren’t thinking about it in that perspective. I don’t know

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (10m 26s):
I’m a psychiatrist. So I think it’s nutty. I mean, I’m with you. It makes no sense. What you want is a disaster relief plan that pays the rent for people till we get through this thing. And that’s got, you know, it keeps dragging on. So we just got to keep paying the rent. The landlords are okay. The people are okay, the society is stable. We get through this pandemic and then we don’t have to pay people’s rent, rent. You know, we make some jobs and then people go back to work and they get off rent relief, but not having rent relief makes no sense to me.

Jeff Wood (10m 58s):
Yeah. At the beginning of the pandemic, you know, right at the start, I was like, we should just shut down for two months or whatever it is and just pay everybody’s bills, just give everybody money to pay their rent, to pay whatever they need to do. Just so they stay in place. They don’t have to go and do what they felt like they needed to do and leave the house and go and mix up with everybody else. And we just keep dragging it on that. That is a whole other subject, obviously, but I mean, it’s related, but it’s frustrating obviously,

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (11m 23s):
But it’s not a whole other subject because that’s completely logical. That was a good way to manage the pandemic, but we couldn’t have that conversation. We had a lot of bitter disputes and a lot of abandonment. So we didn’t have a way as a society to have a sensible conversation about how do you manage a disaster of this order? Yeah.

Jeff Wood (11m 45s):
In the book, there’s a story about saving Coogan’s, which is a bar, a popular bar in Washington Heights. And their landlord was threatening a crazy rent increase and it happened to a local hospital, you know, and I also read that recently, they paid it forward by raising money to save 22 businesses, even though they themselves had unfortunately closed. And it’s such a bummer, but I’m curious, you know, like that’s like an individual example of everything that’s been happening during the pandemic. And I’m curious what your thoughts are and kind of what the pandemic has been doing to communities, to connections, to these main streets that you talk about and how kind of maybe it’s different than what you expected to talk about when you finish the book. And I know you finished the book during the pandemic, but you know, even did a lot of your research.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (12m 25s):
Yeah. So Coogan’s was located on Broadway. So it’s a classic example of a main street business and just a wonderful, wonderful locally owned local business that served all the communities in Washington Heights. The people who started it are just very kind good people. And they started it during a violence epidemic that was going on. So it was a dangerous time and they created a very welcoming space that welcomed everybody. So they became a true force for good in the community on were beloved. So when the hospital said they were going to up the rent by $40,000 a month or something absurd, the people at Coogan’s let everybody know the whole community Rose up.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (13m 12s):
They collected 15,000 signatures on a petition in two days. And all the local power brokers who always came, went to Coogan’s to talk politics insistence at the hospital that they back off. So the hospital did so the community saved coupons, but they saved Coogan’s cause Klingons was part of saving. The community is a very beautiful story. When the pandemic hit, the owner said, we can’t handle it basically because there wasn’t enough disaster relief. And for example, the insurance company wouldn’t back down on how much insurance they should pay, even though they were closed. So it’s a really example of, we had a bad program for supporting small businesses.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (13m 57s):
And so we let crucial pieces of our social infrastructure go away, clothes disappear, that’s all across America that that happened. So we’re in very bad shape from that. And we were not in good shape before. Therefore, one of the things that I thought a lot about coming out of the pandemic as we sort of edged towards the future is that main streets are a core piece of how our cities are organized. And we really want main streets to be strong again, because that’s a tool for solving all the other problems that we have.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (14m 37s):
That’s going to mean different things for every main street in every city. And so the issue becomes as we start to ease out of our houses, getting people to go look at what happened on their main street and then start to think, therefore do we do? And it’s going to be different, but everybody’s going to need to have very local strategies that should be really supported. For example, in the new infrastructure, bill main streets are crucial part of our physical and social infrastructure. So supporting the local businesses on main streets, I think is a crucial piece.

Jeff Wood (15m 11s):
Yeah. It’s interesting that this discussion about infrastructure and what is, and what is an infrastructure, I hold a broad definition of infrastructure myself, but you know, those social pieces are really important. And inside the infrastructure bill, our pieces about care there’s pieces about broadband and connectivity, there’s pieces that are discussing all kinds of social issues. That some would not say our infrastructure, but why is infrastructure a social construct as well?

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (15m 37s):
It’s a really important question by the way. And this is an aside when Korea, South Korea was making a plan for how to develop itself. One of the things they did was installed broadband nationwide. They have broadband, that’s the fastest in the world, five times faster than our best internet, or maybe a hundred times very much faster than what we have. Everybody has it everywhere. And if you’re on the subway, you can even have broadband as you’re going through tunnels. So you can watch your show on your phone. That’s the competition. South Korea, South Korea was an underdeveloped country, became competition because they invested, they understood technology to be part of the infrastructure of the future.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (16m 17s):
The way roads were part of the infrastructure of the past. So I think we have to look around and say, well, what has helping other societies to get ahead? Because we’d like to remain competitive. The social is part of the infrastructure because we are social and a society is made up of we’re humans. We’re humans. We’re not living by ourselves. Some people want to go off and be hermits, but most of us are hanging out together and we want to hang out together. And that’s how we make society. You’ll have a healthier society. If everybody is very sociable. So the people who have found dozens of people in their network, you can have a society where everybody has thousands of people in their network.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (17m 3s):
That’s a very strong society. So think of those being in network, like we draw maps of networks with lines, think of those as like a net. So if everybody has only a hundred people in their network, you only have a hundred lines between that person and other people. If a person has a thousand people, that’s a lot more lines. And if everybody has a thousand people, then the density of lines is so dense, very strong society. That’s a society that can solve its problems. And you would agree. We have horrific problems right now between global warming and pandemics, this pandemic and whatever the next pandemic is going to be.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (17m 43s):
We have a lot of problems. If we can’t talk to each other, we have to invent a solution, a lot of solutions. And then we have to get people to go along with it. If we can’t talk to each other, how’s that going to happen? Well, answer. It’s not going to happen. We’re going to be in deeper trouble. So social infrastructure is the foundation of the strong and healthy society and healthy, economically healthy, physically healthy, mentally healthy spiritually. How many

Jeff Wood (18m 9s):
Main streets did you visit while you were working on the book?

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (18m 13s):
I didn’t count by main street. I counted by cities and I went to 178 cities in 14 countries. Over the 11 years I was working on the book. So many of those cities had more than one main street. So for example, Pittsburgh has a whole lot of main street. So I’ve been to many of the main streets of Pittsburgh or New York city has infinite number of main streets. So I didn’t count by main street. And then some of those main streets. So like the main street where I live, I went all the time. Some of them, I went just once. So it was a lot of variety. Yeah.

Jeff Wood (18m 45s):
It’s interesting. Thinking about going to a place just once and how you feel about a place as opposed to going to a place multiple times a day. Even if you live near a main street, I’m curious if you wish in some of those places that you visited, you had gotten more time to spend. I have this dream where I’d love to live to like a thousand years old and then go and live in each of these little places for a year, two years, three years or something like that and get a longer term kind of experience. Obviously that’s not happening without some crazy medical science or brain implantation to robots kind of thing, but I’m always kind of feeling that I want to be in a lot of different places, even though I can’t.

Jeff Wood (19m 26s):
Do you ever get that kind of feeling that you wanted to stick around maybe a little longer or you wanted to understand the place a little bit deeper?

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (19m 33s):
I really had that feeling very strongly when I was in Johannesburg in South Africa and I was staying at a hotel on grant street and it had a little balcony that looked over the grant street and it had a bakery. So I could sit on the balcony and look at the bakery and the bakery had this fantastic bread and they had rye bread. I could have poached eggs on rye bread. I didn’t realize how much I love postings on rice bread. Like I hadn’t had that in a long time, but this bakery baked on grant, I would just go there and there was a bookstore and there were all kinds of interesting people going up and down the street. There was this guy who was like drunk by very early in the morning and he would just sit down and just be sad.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (20m 15s):
And what kinds of interesting people walking up and down? I really want it to just stay in that hotel in that room and like set my laptop up on the balcony and just watch grant street and write my book. That sounds wonderful. It was wonderful. I just wanted to stay there

Jeff Wood (20m 33s):
In the book. You talk about the process that you went through to do your studies, the bio-psycho-social model versus a biomedical model. Can you explain that a little bit more

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (20m 42s):
Biomedical just means you’re thinking about what’s going on inside the person. So the organ systems, the, that this and that inside the person bio-psychosocial model says there’s stuff going on inside us, but we’re also located in place in all these relationships. And you have to take that into account when you’re treating somebody, which our systems are not, are rarely set up to take that into account. But in fact, we know that the nature of the life people are living is what’s determining what’s going to happen to them. So why leave it out? And it shows up in many interesting ways. I was visiting in Minneapolis and got to hear a talk by a man who was developing a new clinic in a South Minneapolis neighborhood.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (21m 31s):
And he said that they had done 2000 interviews with people to design the clinic. I was in a neighborhood with a lot of different immigrant groups. And one of the things that people said was that the examination rooms they had designed were too small. They built models of the exam rooms, so people could visit. And the people said it’s too small. And they said why? And they said, because they said, it’s big enough for the doctor and the patient. They said, no, we all go into the exam room, the whole family, like 10 people. So I have to be big enough for 10 people to come in. This is not in the Western model of who goes into the exam room at all, where it’s all about privacy, no 10 people.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (22m 12s):
So I has found that such a good example of, if you really start to say to people, well, you’re going to have an exam. How many people should be in the room? 10. I would never think of that. But if you start to look at the social and in a real way, like people have different things they need, but it’s real. The 10 people being in the room is how they’re going to make the decision. And that’s, what’s going to keep the person healthy in the end. Think about having a chronic disease and having take medicine. People don’t take medicine for their chronic diseases, but if all 10 people in your family were there and talked to the doctor and heard the diagnosis and knew what was coming for 10 people would keep you in line. So it’s much better medicine.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (22m 52s):
Yeah,

Jeff Wood (22m 53s):
It makes sense. I know that my, like my, my grandma has a, has a specific medicine. She doesn’t like taking, and if she didn’t, it would be trouble and we kind of keep on her about making sure. And then the folks that stay with her, make sure that she keeps on going. That makes a lot of sense to me in that context.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (23m 10s):
But we’re, we’re all like your grandma more than we like to admit.

Jeff Wood (23m 13s):
Yes. Yes. Oh, I don’t, I don’t like taking stuff if I don’t have to, or want to. And nobody likes to feel like they’re dependent on something that they need, you know?

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (23m 22s):
Oh. Or we want to eat two servings of ice cream or we don’t want to exercise, or we don’t want to brush our teeth or use floss or every one of us has something we don’t want to do. That’s where the community has to help us.

Jeff Wood (23m 34s):
Yeah. That’s beneficial. Right? What do you think the impact of main streets are on cities? I mean, talk briefly about this before, but I always wonder if we kind we’d like them for what they provide us. We like them for their sometimes aesthetic value. We like them for the community ties that they bring us. But when it comes to like policies to protect them, to nurture them, to support the activities that go on there, maybe sometimes we aren’t as progressive in that way that we should be. And it’s it’s, it can be frustrating. I’m curious if you have any thoughts on that.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (24m 8s):
The United States is not a country that has sensible urban policy. So that’s kind of the starting point.

Jeff Wood (24m 14s):
I mean, I probably wouldn’t have this podcast. If, if we did,

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (24m 18s):
There you go. Stay busy. There’s a lot to keep you busy. So we don’t have sensible urban policy. So why would we be sensible about main streets? We’re not. So what main streets need is not what we’re giving main streets. It’s other things designed to do other things, whatever is in the minds of the policymakers, but not based on a sound sense of urban ecosystems and how they work. But Jane Jacobs was the greatest American urbanist. And in her book, death and life of great American cities, she says that the policies should be not a single Sparrow, not a single Sparrow will be harmed by our policies.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (25m 2s):
And that’s a high bar, but that’s the right bar because we also have to be thinking we’ve become more sophisticated. We have to be thinking about the sparrows and the bees and the wolves and the dolphins do thinking about all the creatures in the world, Hong Kong, they shut down the high-speed ferries and the dolphins have come back. And it turns out that where the ferries go is one of the dolphins preferred places, pink dolphins, and who wouldn’t rather have pink dolphins than a high-speed ferry. So can you put the ferry someplace else or not make it high speed or we have to live together with the pink dolphins.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (25m 43s):
So not a single Sparrow is what we should be doing. That’s not what we’re doing now, does this work for our cities to have bad policies? Obviously not because our cities are not beautiful. They’re not prosperous. They’re not the engine of invention that they should be. So these policies are not helping us be a better nation, not to mention that these policies fracture the social bonds and leave us mad at each other. So they’re, they’re really harmful policies. Not only are they not good, they’re actively bad,

Jeff Wood (26m 15s):
This symbiotic relationship with nature and our neighbors and our cities and our places. And, and I don’t know that we quite understand the extent. I mean, I think we do to a minimal extent, but as we’re seeing climate change and the changes in sea level rise and, you know, the biomass and all that stuff, we’re starting to see these drastic things happening. I just was reading about. And it’s frustrating that our Monarch butterflies here on the West coast are disappearing. Obviously everybody’s heard about the bees and, you know, the flowering plants and all that stuff. So we live in this, you know, symbiotic relationship with nature that we seem to continue to damage.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (26m 54s):
I would certainly agree that we live in relationship, but it’s important to not separate people from nature we’re animals, where we are our nature and bees make hives and bears make dens and beavers make ponds, and we make cities. So our cities are part of nature. Also, this is all nature. And the idea that there’s nature over there and I’m over here, I’m in my house. So that’s not nature, I think is a dualism that doesn’t help us. We have to understand that we’re in this big scheme of things, just as they say, one of the bozos on the bus, there’s the bees, there’s the beavers.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (27m 35s):
And we are also on the bus of the planet

Jeff Wood (27m 39s):
Or the planet, right. It’s a one big spaceship

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (27m 41s):
With one big spaceship. So like, okay, how are things going on the bus? Not that well,

Jeff Wood (27m 51s):
Was there something that got to you during the book during the research that you didn’t expect? Was there anything that came up that was surprising in looking at all of these main streets and looking at all of these, these folks and what they were doing their community?

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (28m 4s):
I would say not so much surprising as it was just took a while to see the big picture, because the picture was bigger than the way I was framing it. Even my preposition, I will go to visit main streets. So as I came to think about them as like box circle, line tangle. So the box being the place we usually think of as main street park, civic, commercial center of a street. So I was going to visit that and I was going to visit a hundred main streets and be done. But in a way, what I had to understand was the proposition was wrong. That all of these boxes of main street are on these lines, which are the actual streets and the streets go other places.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (28m 48s):
So all the main streets are interconnected with all the main streets, which is what I came to think of as a tangle. And it wasn’t until I really could articulate and give it a name, say, that’s the tangle. And not that the name is important, but I had a name that it was this complex, this spaghetti thing of streets. And it’s a tangle because I was looking at the map of Essex County where it’s a tangle of streets until I could name that. I hadn’t kind of got the big picture that took awhile.

Jeff Wood (29m 18s):
Yeah. And it’s interesting those connections, because you could go to one main street for one thing and then another main street for another thing, but they are all interconnected. It’s really interesting to think about

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (29m 27s):
Exactly. I could go to one main street and then another major within another main street in the same day, in the same shopping trip. They’re not, they’re not repetitive. No.

Jeff Wood (29m 38s):
And every place has its own little quirky stores and characters and folks that you need to go visit. Exactly. Do you talk about the box and this is kind of your process for understanding main streets, the box circle tangle, and then time as well. What creates the experience of the box in a commercial district?

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (29m 53s):
Well, one thing is that I wouldn’t call it a commercial district. It’s like civic, commercial, social public. So it’s an amalgam. So it’s the amalgamation of all those things. That’s so important. So in a way it’s congestion, springing all those things together. What creates the box is actually how we have evolved the architecture so that the kinds of buildings we put on main street are buildings that create walls. And we put them right next to each other. So it creates the sense of being inside something. So that’s what I call the box.

Jeff Wood (30m 27s):
How did you come up with the box? I mean, it was it just from trial and error going to all these places and kind of experiencing it and understanding that this is something that’s similar between all these places.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (30m 37s):
My study has started on Palisades Avenue in Englewood, New Jersey, which has a great box and a pretty strong circle. And Palisades Avenue is a real line. Like it goes somewhere in each direction, but right next door to angle with this Tenafly and it’s organized very differently. So when we went to Tenafly, I was like, wait, this place doesn’t have a circle. It had a box, but a little box, but not a circle, like circle being kind of the dense urban tissue that the box is set in. They had just cleaned everything out and made parking lots. Yeah. It was kind of grim. And I thought of it as like those false facades and Western movies.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (31m 19s):
Did you ever see the Millbrooks film, blazing saddles. And there’s a point at which they break the fourth wall and they pull the camera back and you can see that this town is just a facade. Yeah. It’s just a wall. It was just a wall, nothing behind it. Just tumbleweed. Tenafly is like that reminded me of blazing saddles. So that taught me about the circle. But then as I went to other places, I would say Maplewood, New Jersey is classic. Really. You know, I could feel that thing that is so cool and angle would have this sense of enclosure and then a lot of good stuff there. So it was very much a feeling like you could feel that you were in the box

Jeff Wood (31m 60s):
That makes so much sense. It feels like, you know, it’s almost like an arcade when you go to those covered shopping areas in places in Europe, where they have these old, you know, shopping districts. And it’s not just, it’s a box, literally it’s an arcade, it’s a covered walkway. And they have on both sides, shops and glass and stuff like that. It’s just literally, that’s what it is a box. This is going to be kind of a strange question, but I hope you can answer it. If you’re going to go to Mars and create a new city, how would you create a good main street?

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (32m 26s):
Well, you know, that is a strange question. People say that rich people like Elon Musk their plan for what they’re going to do when they’ve ruined the earth is either to go into bunkers or to go to Mars. And I don’t know if that’s their plan because I never talked to any of them, but I got to go to Istanbul. And so my answer to that question is why would you want to go to Mars when you can go to Istanbul? And just like, that’s insane. So many millennia go a hundred thousand years of figuring out how to make a city and you make a city best over a hundred thousand years.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (33m 13s):
Think about Istanbul, how long people have been living in Istanbul and what they’ve made. It’s so miraculous. And why would you not go there and have some summit and write a fairy and look at assemble and just Marvel, why you go to Mars? I think going to Mars is stupid. We have to save this.

Jeff Wood (33m 34s):
There’s no blue mosque on, on Mars. That’s not the answer that I was expecting, but it’s definitely the, the right answer. I mean, I, I feel like a lot of the discussion about even new cities. Now there’s a discussion about the city in Saudi Arabia, neon. There’s a discussion about creating a new city outside of Egypt. And I’m always interested to see why they want to build new cities. But I think it’s because they want to make it a little bit more sterile. And like you said, it’s not historic. It’s not developed over time. It’s on our organic growth. And I’m always curious why they would want to make new cities. Obviously my Mars question was silly and ridiculous, and I mentioned that, but I think it’s the same thing for some of these kind of new towns that people want to make as well.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (34m 11s):
It’s a little bit like somebody makes a perfect meal and then they present it to you at a restaurant and, you know, the parsley and everything is just perfect and so gorgeous. And the first thing you do is take your fork and mess it up. And so, you know, you’re going to make Brasilia, right? And the first thing people are going to do is take their fork and mess it up. And then I gotta put graffiti on it. So skip that part where you make the new city and just take the old fabulous city and say, how do we make this fabulous city better? You know, there are a lot of things, people in a stumble with like help with, so could assemble become more Istanbul. And then there are a lot of forces that want to sterilize Istanbul and make it Brasilia.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (34m 56s):
So this is a big fight, but I think that the big fight comes from our failure to acknowledge that were bozos on the bus with both pink dolphins. And the bees

Jeff Wood (35m 7s):
Sounds like a good episode, title bozos on the bus.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (35m 12s):
It’s the heart of everything. Do you know? You’re a bozo on the bus.

Jeff Wood (35m 15s):
Yeah. Do you know, was there a main street that you visited in a place where maybe technically it shouldn’t have been, or this is kind of a offshoot of the previous discussion we just had about cities and, and their organic nature.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (35m 27s):
There shouldn’t have been a main street. Sure. I don’t think so, but that could be the way I think about it. I always think there should be a main street. I always think there is main street.

Jeff Wood (35m 40s):
I want to share the book with folks. The book is main street. How a city’s heart connects us all by Dr. Mindy full love. Where can folks find it if they want to pick up a copy?

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (35m 48s):
Well, I’d like to send people to the publisher, new village press and your website. They’ll get it out to you right away.

Jeff Wood (35m 54s):
That’s a good place. We often say, try to go to your local book shops as well and support those. And you can usually order it from them. If you get a chance or bookshop.org, they give proceeds to the local bookshops. If you can’t get outside your house because of the pandemic. So we appreciate that as well. And where can folks find you online or contact you if they want to talk to you about the book?

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (36m 12s):
Well, they could find me on, you know, at new school, my email is easily available if they want it to write to me and I have a website Mindy fully loved.com. Awesome. They can also find me on Contently

Jeff Wood (36m 22s):
Contently. I’d never heard of content Lee. What’s Contently.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove (36m 25s):
It’s really cool website where you like show your products. Okay, cool. Yeah.

Jeff Wood (36m 30s):
Thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate your time.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove
Yeah, thanks for having me.


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