Just a short note here, as you’ll be hearing plenty more about this for the foreseeable future: I decided to take my list of “stuff I want to do when I have the time and money, someday” and just do it. I left my position at the Corporate Eco Forum and am launching my own business, which I’ve named Third Place Media.

The name is based on the term of art used by urban planners to refer to settings other than home and work that support civic engagement and help build social capital. On top of this concept I’ve layered transit oriented development and walkable neighborhoods, two related forces that work best in tandem to reduce dependence on automobiles. I think the combination of the three creates more diverse, economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable communities that address the needs of a broad group of stakeholders.

I place myself in the role of 21st century storyteller. In order to help drive more of this kind of land use and development, I think there’s a need for rich narrative content to help communities understand what is at stake and what tools are available to create change.  Armed with cameras and a keyboard, I plan to get down in the trenches with local governments, planners, economic development organizations, community leaders and businesses, supporting their efforts to build better places. I will be offering both content development and communications strategy consulting to tie things together.

The first six months will be heavily focused on pilot projects, designed to both get a feel for workflows and methodologies I’ll be using, as well as create a portfolio demonstrating the concepts. We’ll be in Flushing and Sunset Park studying 热闹 (rènao), the Chinese cultural affinity for noisy, rowdy, lively environments. There will be plenty of camping out in train stations and exploration of the communities built around them. Activities will crescendo this fall with a trip to China and Japan, documenting transit infrastructure, mixed-use development, and social phenomena in public spaces. All of these are things I would have done anyway, for no other reason than pure curiosity. Such is the magic of choosing one’s own path.

I’ll have lots to share as things begin to happen. I’ll do my best to immerse you in the places I’m going, as there’s no better prototype for the kind of product I want to deliver. I look forward to bringing you on this new adventure.

Though currently a very simple design and somewhat short on content, version 1.0 of the website is officially live today: http://www.thirdplacemedia.com It will get plenty of love and updates as we go. Feedback welcome!