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Privacy and Space

Hummingbird's picture

After our conversation today in Jody's class about Bryn Mawr as a walled community and the readings we did about the thinking behind the dorms of Bryn Mawr, I can't help making connections to Hans Toch's writing on "Transactions of Man and Environment" in that context. Hoch talks about the way an environment is so intricately related to human responses – thinking, feeling, acting, etc. I thought about the level of privacy M. Carrey Thomas envisioned for her students and how intricately privacy is linked with privilege. Those who could afford more privacy got it. And now, though rooming is not based on how much one pays or can afford to pay, in two room doubles, one student inevitably lives in the "maid's" room, which can and does create tensions between roommates. 

This reminded me, then, of both Barb's project involving privacy in prisons and the experience we've had in our visit to Eastern State and our visits to the Cannery. Space was and still is hugely important in all those contexts. In Eastern State, for example, space was cramped because so many people needed to be housed there. Al Capone, however, had a fairly roomy and well decorated space all to himself – and all because he could pay for it. In the Cannery, our space for class is limited and the atmosphere that's stemmed from that is somewhat loud and uncomfortable. Though I love the interactions we've been having at the Cannery, I find myself exhausted by the harsh lighting, tight quarters, and unreliable temperatures. This is something we have to work with – but I do think it's interesting to be aware of. How much access to privacy and space do we have – especially compared to what we might feel we need? How does space affect each of us differently? What can we do (versus what would we like to do) to change our space based on our expressed needs?