The Cambridge-based artist Peggy Nelson has come up with a new "urban intervention" that plays off the Boston tradition of saving parking spaces after snowstorms, and she invites her fellow citizens to join in. While Southie residents are famous for using anything at hand to reserve the spots they've shoveled (or even haven't shoveled), Nelson's Cones Project focuses on that icon of space-saving: the orange traffic cone.
By law, all space-savers must be removed from the street 48 hours after a snow emergency ends. On Flickr.com, the photo-sharing site, Nelson has posted shots of a traffic cone "illegally" reserving all sorts of physical spaces. These include: a bar stool, a seat on the subway, a spot in Harvard Stadium, a cushion on a living-room couch, and -- useful, indeed -- a ladies'-room stall. At this writing there were 14 photographs, mostly in the Cambridge area.
Home base for the venture is theconesproject.com, but that page just directs you to a Flickr map showing where the unconventional space-savings have taken place so far. You can also go directly to flickr.com/map and type "conesproject" into the "search for" field. (NB: not the "find a place" field at the top of the screen.)
To join the intervention, take your own cone photo, upload it to Flickr, and add the tag "conesproject" (one word). Then watch to see just how viral this space-saving campaign gets.*
*For Flickr newbies: Flickr requires that you upload a certain number of photos -- five, Nelson tells me -- before deeming you "safe" enough that your images can be sent out to the wider world. Also, you have to unclick the box that keeps your photos private. In short: Read the directions.
Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His last article for Ideas was about choosing Congress by lottery.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.