My name's Taylor Griggs. I'm from Chicago. I go to school at DePaul University where I am a Bachelors in Urban Sociology and Geography candidate.
What got you interested in sustainability?
A couple of years ago I read James Howard Kunstler’s book, Too Much Magic, and became really interested in how our built environment harms the natural environment-- specifically cars. I’ve always been super critical of the role of the car in society, and that book was really the starting point of my interest in making cities and suburbs more sustainable.
What sustainability, energy, and mobility issues are important to you?
Transportation and mobility are so important to me. I have never liked driving, so I have always been interested in public transit systems. I’ve had a strong interest in African Urbanism throughout my academic career, and getting to see the informal transit networks in Cape Town and Nairobi on a semester abroad last year was fascinating to me-- it was not a transit method I was used to seeing, and became one of my research focuses this past year. I’m also totally fascinated by autonomous vehicles and the potential impacts they can have on society. AV’s have just as much potential to harm society as they do improve it; I just think the tech, policies, and data collection and management need to properly ensure the greatest benefits to communities.
What exciting projects/research are you working on now?
I just received a grant from my school, DePaul University, to expand on a project from my research methods class this past quarter…..it’s called Something to Taco ‘Bout and yes, it does involve eating a lot of tacos and is actually for school!! The first phase of my project was focused on the authenticity of tacos in Chicago. With this version I broadened my scope to examine what makes a taco authentic, the appropriation of another culture’s cuisine, and what it can mean when a chef from one culture alters and rebrands a dish from another. If anyone reading this happens to have any opinions on the subject please feel free to reach out!!
What are your plans for the next five years?
To be honest, I’m not sure! I finish school in November and am currently interning with the Congress for the New Urbanism here in Chicago. This year alone I have had so many impactful experiences that weren’t part of any ‘plan,’ so I guess my plan is to keep taking things as they come and doing my best to pursue my passions!
What made you want to apply to SISE?
The Transportation Next topic is right up my alley. I spend so many waking hours reading and thinking about the future of mobility (and sometimes my sleeping hours having nightmares of cars taking over society) and getting to see what efforts are being made in my own city is such a great opportunity.
What are you most looking forward to doing in the city?
Oooh that’s a hard one. I’m a born-and-raised Cubs fan and Wrigley Field is one of my favorite places in the whole city. I’d definitely recommend checking out a Divvy, Chicago’s bikeshare program, and exploring the city, the Lakefront Trail is obviously a must-see, and a lot of neighborhoods have really pretty boulevards and parks and side streets that are really nice to bike through. Getting tacos in Pilsen is a must also.
Do you like cats? If not, are you willing to learn to like cats?
I don’t and I’m really not. I say I’m allergic to cats to avoid them when in all reality I just don’t like them. I’m a huge dog person though!!