Mark Llobrera
What Can a Body Do?: How We Meet the Built World cover image

What Can a Body Do?: How We Meet the Built World

Sara Hendren

Started Reading
Oct 08, 2020
Finished Reading
Oct 22, 2020

I know I was just writing about how I don’t typically reread books, but this is one that I will give a second, closer pass. There’s so many powerful, carefully-framed ideas in the book, but one that I’m sitting with right now is how Sara repeatedly de-emphasizes products in favor of process. For example: when we ask about scale, we tend to focus on output, instead of the methods (collaborative, inclusive) that can get us there.

I’m also mulling how Sara calls us all to be active participants in shaping the built world in way that recognizes and respects our multi-layered connections to each other. Going in I assumed that this book would be worth reading even if your work doesn’t directly touch the intersection of design and disability. But now I recognize that caveat is an illusion—we are all participants—misfits—in a world that we build together, whether we accept it or not.

What Can a Body Do? is beautifully written, which is no small thing. I get frustrated with books that are packed with great ideas, save for how to deliver them. Body is written as what I can only describe as heady abstractions grounded in flesh and blood. Reading the epilogue—as Sara invoked Maxine Greene’s call to “[think] of things as they could be otherwise”—I was pumping my fist in the air, tears in my eyes.