Five Questions with Jason Su

 My name is Jason Su. I am a graduate student, urban enthusiast, amateur artist photographer, owner of three blogs: – a thought blog, – a food blog, and – a blog on my journey through grad school in urban planning. I love photography, writing, cities, public spaces, traveling, the awesomeness of plants, and reducing waste.

Currently, I am studying the community development and design aspect of urban planning, with a focus on sustainability and international implications on planning. With the world continuing to be both more globalized and more urbanized, I want to follow the great trends of the world.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Obsession – that is the only way to bring ideas to life. It sounds drastic, but it’s not when you find something you’re truly passionate about. The first step is just thinking about it. If the thought persists, pursue it. You start imagining all the possibilities in bringing it into fruition, and what good it can do. If it brings you joy in thinking about the idea, and the actions begin to seem possible, commit yourself to it and make yourself accountable to it.

After obsession, you break down the idea into steps and do the one that costs you the most or makes your most accountable. Then there’s no going back.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. In the field of urban planning, this book is a pivotal work. It puts perspective on how a community actually thrives apart from the hypothesis and theories of planners and developers, who may look at cities from a top-down symmetric methodology. What is great about the book is that it is an engaging read, written by an urban enthusiast and journalist – not an urban planner, and shows how a street movement is able to shape professional practices.

It also reminds people to stay off their ivory towers and think about what is before them, and not always what plans are imagined to unravel.

What is one piece of advice that you’d like to give?

Whatever you’re doing, draw outlandish conclusions. It is easier to think critically and creatively and scale back, than think conventional and break from it.

What is one idea that you’re going to bring to life in 2012?

One of my ideas in 2012 is to form a collaboration to combat food waste through the maximization of what we already have. We have three goals: 1) get fresh fruit from neighborhood fruit trees to food banks. If you think about all the fruit that gets wasted from not being picked, you can feed many people with it. 2) get restaurants to dedicate a day to not throwing out excess food. Some restaurants toss out perfectly good food simply because a fresher batch is made. 3) spread awareness and education on issues of food waste. Waste doesn’t just come from the food, but from its production, transport and packaging as well.