Welcome to Loitering, the occasional but lovable traveling mini pod I am currently testing in newsletter format! Every month or so, I’ll deliver a treat in the form of an engaging audio interview and corresponding transcript. In 2020, most of these interviews will be with authors discussing their recent books, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. :)
If you subscribe, every new edition of this newsletter podcast will go directly to your inbox. No more algorithms dictating what’s appearing on your feeds! Double bonus if you’re trying to stay off (or are off) of social media. I’ve long been a proponent of the intimacy and engagement of audio but also know that people may prefer to consume via other mediums as well; Loitering gives you a chance to both listen and read.
The Story Behind Loitering’s Story
I’m a freelance journalist and audio producer, and first became a believer in loitering while freelancing in India from 2013 to 2015. My reporting at times hovered on the relationship between safety and freedom for women, and while reporting this story about couples canoodling in public parks, I came across the book Why Loiter?: Women And Risk On Mumbai Streets. The authors Shilpa Phadke, Sameera Khan and Shilpa Ranade argued that one of the reasons public space can feel hostile to women is because of the way their presence in public is often policed. The rationale is, if there’s no purpose as to why women are out — running an errand, shopping, etc. — then some people might not feel there’s a reason for them to be out in the first place.
What women need to do, the authors argued, is flip the narrative on who controls their presence. Women must stake their claim to public space — in other words, loiter. It is by loitering that space becomes theirs.
And if loitering is really — as this article puts it — just being, it becomes a critical question of who gets to control your right to belong in a specific place. As loitering has received renewed attention in the U.S. with rising homelessness and some peoples’ discomfort at the presence of Black residents, for example (see the story about “BBQ Becky,” the white woman who called the cops on a black family barbecuing in Oakland, Calif.), it becomes all the more important to recognize and advocate for your right to be (see the follow-up story of Oakland organizing a “Barbecuing while Black” party — effectively, a political statement on loitering).
So, what began as a mini pod questioning the influence of space — whether physical, virtual or emotional — in our lives, Loitering is now a mini pod newsletter taking you to a specific place (often with a specific person), and allowing the space for some ideas that might not otherwise come across your radar.