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November 13, 2007

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an undergrund room with young men playing video games
Inside the apartment under the Providence Place Mall

A Home At The Mall

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A Home at the Mall

In downtown Providence, R.I., a massive shopping mall dominates the skyline. City officials have praised the mall for bringing new life to an old industrial city, but some residents and local artists like Michael Townsend have been grumbling since the mall was first built in 1999.

In 2003, Michael and a few friends decided to challenge their own critical perspective on the mall with an experiment - for one week, they vowed to never leave the mall. They would eat, bathe, and find a place to sleep there, in an effort to better understand the satisfactions of shopping. The experiment ended up lasting 4 years.

By the time Michael was busted, he and his wife Adriana Yoto, as well as some friends, had furnished an adequately-functioning apartment inside the mall. He talks with Dick Gordon about what life in the mall taught him about the connections between consumerism and domestic bliss.

Trash Talk

Ashley Menger is a software designer in Austin, Texas. When she read that the average person creates 2,300 pounds of garbage every year, she decided to see how much she could reduce her own output of waste. So she came up with some rules: she had to carry all her non-recyclable trash with her at all times for a period of two weeks. Ashley also blogged about her experiment to help inspire others.

Music

You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch by The Gypsy Hombres for the album Django Bells; Our House by the Vitamin String Quartet for the album The String Quartet Tribute to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

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