Expeditions are journeys with purpose. Published in Queens, New York.

Current Issue: Homecoming

This issue (buy here) is about Homecoming: how we design for our home, how we react to our daily comings and going, and how might we create a better native place for ourselves.

It’s a great issue.

This issue is all about how we affect our native place. D.J. Trischler speaks about Neighborhood-Centered Design, Lisa Dewey-Mattia shares her Kindergarten Commute, Marguerite Jones talks about her Metamorphosis to music, Alison Waske Sutter is interviewed about how she is helping Grand Rapids become more resilient, we share a deep dive into 5g Antennas and a provocation about how to re-wild where we grew up.

Please feel free to purchase a copy while supplies last. Your purchase helps support future issues through cash infusion, and by showing people care about this project.


Listen to our ever-evolving podcast, here’s our most recent episode.

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Expedition Works

A full–service design cooperative – let’s work together to make your journey with a purpose successful.

Avery’s Journey

Exploring Avery’s journey designing for the new district, with an assist from MidJourney.

Previous Issue: Scorching

This issue (buy here) is about Scorching: what happens when things get out of hand, it’s hot out, and the heat doesn’t go away? How are we responding to this slowly rising catastrophe? We speak to a range of people who are working to make our neighborhoods more resilient

We spoke with Annika Lundkvist who is creating a network of practitioners at Pedestrian Space; architect Jan Kattein who is creating Temporary urbanism for a contingent community; Eric Paul Dennis writes about how Trees are Critical Infrastructure; Jason Baker, a robot, and myself wrote a poem; and we share another Tactical Democracy dispatch: Engagement Spectrum Toolkit and share The Bowerbird.

Please feel free to purchase a copy while supplies last. Your purchase helps support future issues through cash infusion, and by showing people care about this project.

Articles from this issue

First Issue: Founding

This issue is about Founding: the beginning of new things, work, and art. Our inaugural issue is our first prototype in using print pamphleteering to create narrative.

Jason Baker wrote a poem about a village, we speak with Lara Storm & Ben Swire about their company Make Believe Works, we share two features about Tactical Democracy: an introduction, and how we used Block Builder to help people’s inner voice come to life.

Please feel free to purchase a copy while supplies last. Your purchase helps support future issues through cash infusion, and by showing people care about this project.

Articles from this issue

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006 Sandra Rothbard – freight matters

In this episode we speak with freight expert Sandra Rothbard, who is an urban planner specializing in freight transportation. After working for public agencies in NYC on city logistics, disaster preparedness and solid waste management, she now supports public, private and non-profit organizations around the world as an independent consultant. She focuses on building sustainable, resilient and safe streets, healthy communities and efficient and economic supply chains.

Over 70 percent of America’s goods are moving by truck. Especially that last mile. You don’t live in a rail yard. You don’t live at the airport. You don’t live in a maritime port. You need trucks or hopefully more vans and cargo bikes to be able to survive and we need people who work in that industry and hopefully are already educated so that they are already experts in that field.

It’s a really, really big problem, and it’s hidden in plain sight.

People see trucks all the time on the road, but they don’t recognize that that’s their stuff in the back, until it is a real inconvenience.

Show Notes

More podcasts

005 Graham Rossmore – Curbs for People

In this episode we speak with parking expert Graham Rossmore, who helped Los Angeles shift their temporary outdoor dining program to a permanent feature, allowing a greater use of curb and parking space than just car storage. His work found that areas with Al Fresco dining generated an increase of $12 million in gross sales in 2022 compared to 2019. We also speak about new ways to use the city, which just so happens to be how we used to use the city before cars became the dominant form of transportation.

My key research findings on the alfresco program found that the alfresco program was not only successful in keeping more than 80% of businesses open during the pandemic, but it also saw an impressive increase of 12 million dollars in gross sales in the treatment corridors, which again were the five areas with high levels of alfresco. What we saw was the parking meters lost around 210,000 dollars annually. But, this was more than compensated for with the 12 million dollar increase in sales. We found no perceived impacts to parking demand, both from business owners and customers alike.

Show Notes

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rewilding the


There is nothing natural about a single-family detached home. 

004 Karen Kubey – Cities of Imagination

Karen Kubey, Assistant Professor, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto, speaks about housing justice, how we need to design for abundance, we don’t live in policy, and how housing supply is part of a larger toolbox to provide housing for all.

Aging Against the Machine (designed in collaboration with Neeraj Bhatia, Ignacio G. Galan, and an interdisciplinary team for the exhibition Reset: Towards a New Commons; photo by Asya Gorovits)
Aging Against the Machine (designed in collaboration with Neeraj Bhatia, Ignacio G. Galan, and an interdisciplinary team for the exhibition Reset: Towards a New Commons; photo by Asya Gorovits)
Aging Against the Machine (designed in collaboration with Neeraj Bhatia, Ignacio G. Galan, and an interdisciplinary team for the exhibition Reset: Towards a New Commons; photo by Asya Gorovits)
Aging Against the Machine (designed in collaboration with Neeraj Bhatia, Ignacio G. Galan, and an interdisciplinary team for the exhibition Reset: Towards a New Commons; photo by Asya Gorovits)

One thing that I focus on in my work as a designer is I think we have a collective failure of imagination. I think that ending the housing crisis And producing and renovating as much green social housing as we need is extremely achievable.

it’s very hard for people to imagine what that would look like. And that it is possible. And… I think the reason is that we have been subject to propaganda for many, many years, for decades, since the Cold War, basically, that says, Ah, no, social housing doesn’t work in the United States. It’s only for somewhere like Sweden. Forget about it. It’ll never work.

Show Notes

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rewilding the


There is nothing natural about a single-family detached home. 

003 Joanne Cheung – Cities Book of Play

Cities are sites of aspirations and identities, and ‘play’ can be a means for fostering community engagement. Architect and urbanist Joanne Cheung critiques the prevailing forms of community engagement, suggesting that they are often paternalistic and fail to adequately consider the agency of individuals and communities. Joanne further discuss the implications of power imbalances, the need for co-creation, and how play can act as a ‘scaffolding’ for discussing democratic representation. Play has often become commodified causing an unequal power dynamics in society. Joanne suggests the Cities for Play is but a scaffold in tackling very hard problems democratically, and calls for meaningful engagement through more community-oriented spaces for collective action and creativity.

“Why would you want to be engaged for engagement’s sake? It makes no sense. You can only be engaged when you’re doing something meaningful.”

Show Notes

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Pamphlets, Please

002 Tom Badley – Offline Cash

Graphic designer and artist Tom Badley shares with us his journey practicing as both a designer and artist, banknote design, digital art, his design of Offline Cash, and his book, Art & Money.

“Everything must be destroyed before we start over.”

Show Notes

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Pamphlets, Please

001 Cincinnati’s West End with Josh Junker

Urbanist and activist Josh Junker (twitter) talks with us about the destruction of Cincinnati’s West End.

Show Notes


Core mindsets underpin the processes and methods used in collaborative civic projects, enabling teams to unleash their creative problem-solving abilities for tackling complex design challenges. These guiding principles foster new directions, stimulate progress when stuck, and pave the way for success. Embracing these mindsets is crucial for becoming a proficient design thinker and innovative problem solver.

1. Do it

Develop a strategy that involves sketching, using visuals, and creating prototypes. When facing challenges, utilize tangible materials like markers and construction paper to explore and test your ideas. There’s no need to gather input from every possible user or explore all ideas before getting started. Taking action and creating tangible products will accelerate your learning process and provide a solid foundation for further development.

Consider whether the current approach balances discussion with actual creation and building. Evaluate the possibility of testing early ideas immediately rather than waiting for them to be perceived as “right” or perfect.

2. Start small, grow big

At the beginning of a project, avoid focusing on finalizing all details and involving every stakeholder. Rather, make context-based decisions and gradually involve individuals and stakeholders as the project undergoes multiple iterations. Expand your team and aspirations progressively throughout the project’s development.

Explore what can be achieved with a small team and a preliminary set of ideas, then identify strategies for expanding and refining the concept as the circle of collaborators grows.

Hi – this is Randy Plemel, I run a small consultancy Expedition Works, where we specialize in solving difficult problems for many people, including civic designers. Take a look at what we’ve done, and how we can help.

3. Short term, for long term impact

For lasting results, focus on immediate and short-term actions that can maintain their impact over time. Solely concentrating on long-term impact may cause stagnation, as projects, concepts, and prototypes become too complex to finish, hindering the ability to learn and progress in stages.

What are our goals for tomorrow, a month from now, and five years into the future?

4. Keep people at the center

Always consider the target user, as each activity offers a chance to discover unique, hidden, or unaddressed needs. Maintain a user-centric approach throughout the entire development process.

What would the affected people say about our design?

5. Invite diverse perspectives to the table

Designing for people excels when it unites individuals with diverse perspectives and disciplines, as the unique problem-solving approaches of various participants can result in innovative solutions.

Invite users or industry experts to provide fresh perspectives on your project. Their unique insights and experiences will unlock new ways of thinking and creative solutions to challenges.

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6. Stay curious

Throughout each stage of the design process, ask new questions frequently. This leads to novel discoveries and sparks inspiration.

What questions could we ask to inspire new ways of thinking?

Many of these mindsets were developed as a first draft working with the Knight Foundation on a Rockefeller Grant during the Reimagining the Civic Commons project I did with Njoki Gitahi and Jacqueline Cooksey.

Waypoint 003

We all need aids to navigation during our journey. Sometimes the waypoints are fixed and known; though often they are temporary and fleeting. Here are some of my current waypoints focused on Homecoming and our individual journey.


With the passing of Queen Elizabeth, we’ve seen a very British transition of power, with all sorts of rituals from days of yore, including the Royal Beekeeper  informing the Queen’s bees of the Queen’s death. But for me, the most British thing was The Queue: the 5+ mile long/24+ hour long queue to pay respects to the Queen, which stretched along the River Thames, and supported by Queue-side amenities such as restrooms (loo’s), aid stations, and pubs (!!!).


California, you beautiful place. Years of organizing have produced a state-wide movement toward allowing a greater range of housing then before, rolling back 50 years of unnecessary fixation on single-family detached homes. An array of bills have passed: AB 2097 which allows for ministerial approval of affordable housing on commercially-zoned lands, SB 886 which exempts student housing from CEQA review, and AB 2221 which makes it easier to build ADU’s. But the big one is AB 2097 which eliminates parking minimums near transit. 

All of this shows that state preemption allowing people to do more, and build more, on their land is an effective strategy. I don’t think we’ve found a unifying strategy about what constitutes “good” state preemption, versus “bad” state preemption. 


For a project I’m working on I’ve been doing a deep dive into control panels of all kinds. I’m especially interested in control panels from the Mid Century and control surfaces for complex systems. Our predominant interaction surface these days is a plane of glass or plastic, so having specific buttons, knobs, and lights excite me.


Supporting The Queue was a curious YouTube channel created by an agency, with a very small island name: the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. This YouTube channel was just a livestream running on a laptop, sitting on a cubicle, in a building somewhere in Whitehall. A custom back-end was coded to update the feed, and it unhelpfully used a confusing system of physical geolocation called What3Words, where three words are mapped to physical forms. This is both horrifying for using a confusing geolocation system, but amazing that this was cobbled together in 3 days according to a consultant who helped bring this to life.


Nominally about Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds buying a football club in Wales, the program is actually a portrait about a community trying to rebuild and find itself again. The show is certainly entertaining, but I find the documentary format hard to process and stay in the moment. It raises all sorts of questions as to the show’s authenticity, artifice, and storytelling ethics. Well worth your time.


I’ve been playing around with a suite of AI generated tools for a bit. We did a collaboration with an AI text generator for Issue 2. I’ve been playing with Midjourney every couple of days, testing out prompts and outputs. It is certainly a toy for now, but I’ve been looking to try to use it for projects with mixed success. Most of my time is trying to find ways to get Midjourney outside their “house style” of image creation.

Purchase this issue

These waypoints come from our third issue – Homecoming – which is still for sale. Please support local journalism and purchase your copy today!

Waypoint 002

We all need aids to navigation during our journey. Sometimes the waypoints are fixed and known; though often they are temporary and fleeting. Here are some of my current waypoints.


It isn’t lost on us that writing a climate-focused issue has a direct impact on the climate. There is some hypocrisy here, or at least vanity that what we have to say is worth the carbon and energy. I’m not here to debate that last part, but we did spend some time exploring our energy chain to see what our impact is. Below is our environmental impact, on a run of 500 issues. We are assessing different carbon extraction / sequestration services to offset this release. But wow, this whole sector just screams i am a scam.

ITEMCO2 in kg
Manufacture45.33 kg
Shipping from LON118.11 kg
Shipping product to you81.20 kg
Mailpiece creation64.96 kg
Per return letter10.00  kg
TOTAL319.60 kg


In racial disparities in housing politics  researchers Katherine Levine Einstein et al show that the people who show up to zoning meetings are richer, whiter, and more often own property then the community they reside, creating equity and inclusion problems. Even in highly diverse communities, meetings are dominated by whites who oppose new housing, potentially distorting the housing supply to their benefit.


The same group of researchers issued still muted: the limited participatory democracy of zoom public meetings which shows that participants in online forums are quite similar to those in in-person ones. They are similarly unrepresentative of residents in their broader communities, and similarly overwhelmingly opposed to the construction of new housing.


The US Environmental Protection Agency design system and logo by Chermayeff & Geismar, led by design director Steff Geissbuhler, is worth your time to review, and celebrate.


I implore architects to think about the value of big dumb boxes. They don’t need to be plain or ugly – SoHo is full of them – they just need to be easily adapted to evolving building needs.


Baby Boomers will eventually want to downsize their homes as their household size decreases. Arthur Nelson explores the mismatch between existing housing and possible future housing in the study, the great senior short-sale or why policy inertia will short change millions of america’s seniors. He identifies existing housing policy which might cause seniors to sell their homes at a perceived or actual loss.


Brigitte Geißel and Pamela Heß write in determinants of successful participatory governance: the case of local agenda 21, and find that dialogue-oriented procedures of local municipalities only works if the municipality is strongly committed to participatory involvement of their citizens and if it has invested in staff and support to carry out the aims of its’ citizens.


I keep thinking about how there was a grassroots political organization in the 1970’s called Committee To End Pay Toilets In America which was the driving force in eliminating all pay toilets across America. Resulting in functionally eliminating all public toilets in America, because municipalities were loath to provide these as a safe service.


In a new paper entitled, New Evidence On Redlining By Federal Housing Programs In The 1930s by Fishback et al, the authors find that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), from its inception in the 1930s, did not insure mortgages in low income urban neighborhoods where the vast majority of urban Black Americans lived. Meaning the infamous Redline maps (above) had less impact than original racist lending by the FHA in the 1930’s. 


New evidence from during the pandemic that the increase in home prices was driven by demand, as supply (or lack thereof) was a minor part. Elliot Anenberg and Daniel Ringo and write in Volatility In Home Sales And Prices: Supply Or Demand? how sensitive the housing market is to changes in mortgage rates. If we want builders to be able to produce a wider-range of housing types – to match the actual variation of American family units – then we need the FHA and Freddie/Fannie to offer a wider range of mortgage packages for multifamily homes, small units,  live-work, co-housing, ADU’s etc.


I think a lot about this new seven floor residential building in my backyard. It’s designed by Dieguez Fridman and Beyer Blinder Belle. You are looking at a south-facing facade with zero outside shading. Which means that it’s at least 63 feet of uninterrupted and unshaded glass, where the heat of the sun bakes the occupants and increases the air conditioning load. The designer locked-in 50-plus years of unnecessary cooling because they decided they couldn’t add exterior shading, or an alternative facade design. 

This is bad.

Purchase this issue

These waypoints come from our second issue – Scorching – which is still for sale. Please support local journalism and purchase your copy today!

If I were the King of Zoning

Spend any amount of time on the internet – Nextdoor, Facebook, or Twitter for instance – and housing comes up, with contention reigns supreme; the online user interface optimizes for engagement (outrage) rather than understanding.

Facebook has to sell the ads to someone. Often the discourse becomes overly simplified into two warring camps: NIMBYS and YIMBYS, and all the different flavors across who and what gets built in our neighborhoods.

If you want to read more, our second issue Scorching is now on sale.

If I were the king of zoning in America, these are the initial policy proposals I would implement, in order to increase abundance, reduce cost of housing, and make sure that everyone has access to a safe home.

Mixed use by default

All the famous streets in America – Bourbon, Broadway, Beacon – all have offices, restaurants, or stores on the ground floor with more up above or homes above. Mixed use should be the default city-wide.

As-of-right zoning

A big problem in many cities is that there isn’t an as of right permitting process, it’s all conditional. As-of-right is when a building can be built as long as the building use and the size, shape, and location of the building conforms to the zoning.

This is how it is in New York City, but not places such as San Francisco. Shifting to this process streamlines the process, everyone knows what is allowed on a given site, it remove an unnecessary veto point, and it removes a potential point of graft: supervisors or council members can’t extort donations for approvals.

Diverse home types

We need to allow a wider range of home types to match American’s needs. We need: single room occupancies, co-housing, tiny homes, duplexes, fourplexes, and all the missing middle housing we used to build.

No Parking Minimums & Parking Maximums

Get rid of all off-street parking minimums which increase the cost of building units, locks in car dependency, and makes the street wall and sidewalk dead. On the other end, we need parking maximums so we don’t lock in car dependency and builders don’t over- build useless parking. There should be no off street parking allowed within a 10 minute walk of quality transit.

More Ownership Models

We need a wider range of home ownership models; we need more co-ops, community land trusts, community building trusts, co-housing, fractional ownership, long-term-tenancy, con- dos, etc. This requires both a more permissive legal framework, and a more expansive bank financing then we currently have. THE FHA needs to back-up and collateralize a wider set of loan products outside just single family homes.

Abolish Single Family Detached Requirements 

If people still want to keep or build single family homes, great. But if you want duplexes, triplexes, and quads we should be able to build those through- out our neighborhoods. These miss- ing middle typologies were prevalent throughout America until racist zoning came into play last century. It’s OK to admit we made a mistake.

Public Housing

Cities can borrow money cheaper than most organizations, have a vested interest in housing people, and provide for their residents. They should build housing like Singapore’s HPD through- out every city-owned parcel, and they should acquire land or buildings like Barcelona has to increase units. The US Government needs to repeal the Faircloth Amendment allowing municipalities the ability to build more public housing as they see fit to augment market-rate housing production.

Housing bonus next to transit

Any lot within a 10-15 minute walk from high-quality transit – subway, elevated, streetcar, or Bus Rapid Transit – should look like Paris. Who doesn’t love Paris? This would give us a neighborhood of 4-6 stories of mixed-use buildings, with small offices, restaurants, or stores at the base. This is how most of America looked for most of our short existence. Make neighborhoods great again.

Car-free neighborhoods

A big impediment to safe streets are cars: they are great tools to travel fur- ther than 20-40 miles and can cross the country. But they have no place in cities. The number of people being injured or killed by cars has exploded in the last 5 years. Follow Barcelona’s lead by creating “Superblocks” where vehicles aren’t allowed. Paris also is following suit. Deliveries can be accomplished through e-bikes and safety vehicles can still access through gates.

I hope you found this point of view helpful. We are independently publishing a monthly zine / pamphlet with a lot of help from our friends. You can purchase the first two copies below and help keep this boat afloat.


Hi. My name is Randy. Nice to meet you.

I’m a design and innovation consultant which owns Expedition Works. I specialize in solving hard and complex problems for people in elegant, and hopefully simpler ways. Depending on the problem need, this might look like user and customer experience design, product and interaction design, service design, strategy, or environments design.

I consult and advise, having worked with a wide roster of organizations after leaving IDEO after 12 years of exciting work. Prior to this, I worked as an architect in NYC, for 8 years.

I’ve done extensive work in the public sector working with great partners from the Knight Foundation to reimagine the civic commons across eight cities, Bloomberg Philanthropies to cultivate city-based innovation in the U.S. and India, AARP to evolve their role in creating livable communities for all, and the City of Los Angeles and NYCHA to make cities better through design.

I’ve also completed a range of new products and services with a diverse set of clients—including State Farm, Steelcase, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Tata, Citibank, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, and Walgreens—on a variety of design challenges, from new digital communication tools, to blended digital and physical experiences, to entirely new retail strategy and concepts.

Holding a BS in Architecture and Masters of Architecture from the University of Cincinnati, I’ve worked worldwide for firms large and small. I have extensively taught in the past, most notably as a Part-time Studio Lecturer at Parsons the New School, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.