Guest Lecture: Erica Walker, Noise and the City

September 25, 2018

Erica Walker gave a passionate talk to the experience design community at Northeastern about the experience of noise in cities.
Walker developed a passion for studying noise after experiencing, first hand, its damaging effects. Walker lived in an apartment, below a family with two kids who used to run the length of their floor–my ceiling–for what seemed like 24 hours a day. At the time, she was a starving artist, selling, among other things, coffee tables out of her home. Walker could not escape it.
Walker tried to have a civil discussion with her neighbors. When that failed,  she tried to resolve the issue with her landlord, and then the police, and then, her city. At every turn, the understanding was that this was something that she would have to simply deal with.
After turning to message boards and blogs to find clever ways to deal with the issue, Walker realized that (1) she is not the only one suffering at the hands of community noise; (2) she had a great landlord who allowed me to move into another apartment. However, some people can’t escape the harmful levels of noise that they are exposed to. (3) Meaningful change moved beyond helping herself and instead helping all of those who suffer at the hands of noise.
So, Walker stopped being an artist, she gave up her furniture business to become an urban planner and economist. Walker attended the UEP program at Tufts University, did her thesis on community noise in Somerville (MA) and completed her doctorate at Harvard before setting.  Noise and Health was at the center of her dissertation and is the focus of  her current work with noiseandthecity.org