My name is Yuriko Jewett. I’m the gal behind the Little Hum Workshop – an urban planning and design collaborative in Oakland, California. You can best reach me by email: mylittlehum (at) gmail (dot) com
The little hum. It’s how we relay a catchy pop song with only a few notes; or curate a moment in history with a collection of photographs; or make an online map by selecting key attributes to convey a statistical trend that brings the bigger picture home. The little hum is what sustains a community vision and makes a project... GO!
Little Hum Workshop was realized when my father was diagnosed with a chronic illness. I had to find a way to continue my professional path while providing 24/7 stay-at-home care. For more than 15 years previously, I was employed under the umbrella of several large architecture and planning firms in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the later half of my big firm career, I worked with government agencies to provide accessibility compliance and universal design solutions in civic spaces. I analyzed how a person with a visual impairment navigates a signalized intersection for example; or how developed design solutions ensure that grandma enjoys a picnic with her family at the local park.
It turns out my years of doing this important work was preparing me for the inevitable, when the tables turn and a child is responsible for the care of a parent. It was during this time that I made the transition from working with large demographic data sets to working with just one person, my father, who needed the built environment to be modified "just so" to help him ride out his final days with peace and comfort.
The experience allowed me to pull back and reinvent myself as a professional in the urban planning and design field. Our public spaces will always need to be modified to accommodate us. People change. Cities grow. Sea levels rise. This work will never be done; and transforming one tiny outdoor place into a community-oriented green public space is what I love to do most. For me, these unique spaces — parking lots, medians, underpasses, transit stops, intersections — generate the little hum of a city and nurture the heart of where many of us live.