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New Directions for Asphalt Anthropology

Well how 'bout that - its been exactly one year since I've updated this blog. Its been on my mind to do an update and now, quite unconsciously, I'm at a year so this seems like the perfect time for an update.

First - where have we been? A range of family health matters have occupied much of my time this last year. But even before the clock struck for 2023 I was already stepping back from Asphalt due to my husband, Brian's epilepsy. We went through a really rough period where he was having breakthrough seizures on a regular basis. They were debilitating for him and traumatic for me. In a recent conversation with someone about epilepsy, I found myself stating, "I'd rather be dead than see him have another seizure". I was quite shocked when those words came out of my mouth. I didn't really mean it, but it does sum up the pain of seeing your loved one in that condition. The good news is that upon taking my sabbatical from Asphalt we soon found a wonderful new epilepsy specialist, a new cocktail of meds and Brian has been seizure free for nearly a year.

The funny thing about stepping back. It helps you get clarity on what you want in your life, where you want to spend your energy and what is really important. In stepping back from Asphalt and other activities the most amazing thing happened. With Brian's epilepsy managed we've had more fun exploring the city than ever. And I found I didn't miss teaching Asphalt Anthropology in groups... like at all.

I started Asphalt as a very focused approach to women in public spaces. Not as traditional self-defense but as a way to help them develop skills for living life in dense public spaces. They didn't have to be tough, but they had to be smart. My observation has been that most Americans have little experience with public spaces and have an oblivious suburban perspective. For me this has been a feminist project to challenge the fear-mongering about cities. You can read more about that at the Asphalt Anthropology manifesto.

Even in our current post-covid (?) environment where folks are screaming for law and order while they vilify cities - I'm committed to my mission of working with women in dense public spaces so they can make empowering decisions rooted in knowledge rather than fear. But given the current climate of our current moral panics I feel like I am swimming up stream with this perspective.

So what does this mean for Asphalt Anthropology?


First, I am only now teaching students one on one. I used to teach groups, using those funds to help offset expenses for the people who didn't have the resources for training. But the truth is, I can't stand the thought of another class filled with naive suburbanites who are seeking answers to perfect safety. If you have to be told to not wear expensive jewelry in a dicey area... I simply don't want to deal with you. There are plenty of people out there selling courses who can tell you that. Go to them.

If however, you are a woman who lives or is moving to a dense urban area, congratulations! You've already overcome the social conditioning going on about cities and you are someone I'd love to work with! If you are new to Asphalt Anthropology, read more about my approach over at my manifesto here. It also gives you a strong sense of how this is NOT traditional self-defense and what we do cover based on your needs. From there feel free to apply to work with me here.


I can't imagine life without continuing to observe. I've been exploring cities on my own since I was about 10. What I've learned over decades continues to be refined and I am gathering new perspectives in our current social climate. I've continued to toy with the idea of going back to school for a PhD in a range of topics adjacent to Asphalt Anthropology. I'll keep you posted!


I'll continue to write from time to time as I am inspired. I've been sitting on a story for a while about my experience in serving on a jury in a child rape case. It was a brutal experience but what I've learned can be of service to others. I'm still processing the experience but look for that article!

I'll probably just be posting here on the blog and perhaps revive my Medium account.

Where you won't find me much is on social media. A part of my stepping back and reflecting is observing the grossness of social media in general and of discussions of self-defense specifically. Social media is a noisy marketplace and I never really felt like mass communication was the best place for nuanced discussions related to Asphalt. Self-defense on social media in particular has contributed to the militarization of American life, especially in the suburbs. There is a glut of bored people living in boring places reading books by cops and soldiers on safety then proclaiming themselves experts. I'm not referring to a single person here - this is a composite of what self-defense has become: boring people telling you how to be as boring as they are in their safe little suburb. Imma just gonna avoid all that.

Happy to be Back!

Ok so I might sound a little grumpy in this post. I usually spend more time editing to clarify and refine and to make sure I hit the right tone. But let's go raw with this one...

As I realize its been a year since I've posted here I look back and feel more committed to the mission of Asphalt Anthropology than ever. It may not look like it as I drop out of the hustle culture - but I love the clarity I now have on who and what I am willing to make space for in my life.

I hope to connect with more women seeking to break free of what they are told to be afraid of - so they can create the lives they want for themselves in cities with more freedom, discernment and joy. If that's you - let's talk!

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