{a digital archive of

‘Collinwood Observer’ articles}


AUGUST 2013: http://www.collinwoodobserver.com/read/2013/08/09/my-collinwood-installment-no-1

SEPTEMBER 2013: http://www.collinwoodobserver.com/read/2013/09/12/my-collinwood-installment-no-2-where-can-i-get-a

OCTOBER 2013: http://www.collinwoodobserver.com/read/2013/10/11/my-collinwood-installment-no-3-great-coffee-cupcakes-chocolate-on

NOVEMBER 2013: http://collinwoodobserver.com/read/2013/11/10/my-collinwood-living-on-lake-erie

DECEMBER 2013: http://www.collinwoodobserver.com/read/2013/12/12/my-collinwood-vol-5where-the-heart-is

FEBRUARY 2014: http://www.collinwoodobserver.com/read/2014/02/07/my-collinwoodyour-art

MARCH 2014: http://www.collinwoodobserver.com/read/2014/05/14/no-vacancy-here-art-in-phone-box

APRIL 2014: http://www.collinwoodobserver.com/read/2014/04/07/locks-of-love-finds-new-home

JUNE 2014: http://www.collinwoodobserver.com/read/2014/06/09/yarn-n-yoga-celebrates-remembers-euclid-beach-pier

JULY 2014: http://www.collinwoodobserver.com/read/2014/07/12/beach-pictures-that-dont-look-like-theyre-from-cleveland

AUGUST 2014: http://www.collinwoodobserver.com/read/2014/08/05/yarn-n-yoga-brings-crowd-creativity-to-euclid-beach

SEPTEMBER 2014: http://www.collinwoodobserver.com/read/2014/09/03/free-celebrate-the-one-year-anniversary-of-phone-gallery-clevelands

OCTOBER 2014: http://www.collinwoodobserver.com/read/2014/10/15/what-do-murals-do-for-neighborhoods

FEBRUARY 2015: http://www.collinwoodobserver.com/read/2015/02/05/a-love-letter-to-my-city


MARCH 2015: http://collinwoodobserver.com/read/2015/03/06/do-good-make-art

APRIL 2015: http://collinwoodobserver.com/read/2015/04/03/donate-now-to-the-lakefront-literacy-project

MAY 2015: http://collinwoodobserver.com/read/2015/05/18/celebrate-summer-with-books-on-the-beach


why I write: In third grade, my class embarked on a mission to write the antidote to the children’s book “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day“. While the other students selected excerpts from the book to re-write and illustrate, I (not too humbly) proclaimed that I would re-write the whole novella myself.

To this day I can recall Saturday afternoons spent scribbling away. My parents aghast to think a teacher could prescribe so much work to one student were less than surprised to discover this was a self-assigned project of epic proportions. Not to be outdone by my classmates, I bound the pages with yarn and had the covers laminated.

A year prior I entered a contest through the National Congressional Library and may claim to be one of the youngest published authors in that great cavern of books. Elementary school gave me my confidence as a writer, and much of my school breaks were spent in front of a now-vintage Apple computer punching the keys.

In High School, I excelled in Advanced Placement literature and writing courses, where a teacher’s comment at the end of one didactic assignment rings in my head every time I sit down to pen more than an email: “If that architecture thing doesn’t work out, please become a writer.” Not one to back down from a challenged (perceived or otherwise), I’m determined to let both architecture and writing find their place in my hectic life.

And so, a few years out from my formal education, I find myself drawn to creative writing like a magnet to steel. My second (let’s not forget that dust-covered essay in Congress) published piece was thrilling, a chance for me to share the exhilarating experiences of living in a foreign country through the Travel Section of my then local paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Not surprisingly, I spend a huge portion of my day writing – emails to contractors, front-end specifications, plan notes, thank you notes, Facebook posts, blog updates, text message reminders – but not until this past summer (2013) did I find my next opportunity to be a published author.

Since July 2013 (the very month I took up residency in the most fabulous, up-and-coming, Rust Belt blighted, artist enclave neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio) I have been a regular contributor to the Collinwood Observer, a local free paper open to any and every resident of the coverage area. I absolutely  look forward to crafting my 500 word monthly article expounding upon the good and the great reasons to love Cleveland. More so, because, just like my China article in 2009, may it always serve as a reminder of this time in my life.

I write because I love to, because I am good, and because I have something to say. I have a dream of becoming an architecture critic, of drafting an entire book (with actual stitches not of yarn), and of publishing opinion pieces far and wide. Until then, practice makes perfect.


My piece in ‘The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Travel Section’, appeared in Saturday, November 22nd 2009’s print edition and Sunday, November 23rd’s online edition (see link below!)

Personal Journey:

In China, way beyond white rice

By Allison Lukacsy, For The Inquirer

In China, what does not kill you (or leave you clutching your tormented stomach for days) tastes amazing.

After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Architecture in May, I embarked on a three-month internship in Changsha, capital of Hunan province, to design a pavilion for the Shanghai 2010 World Expo. Until then, my experience with Chinese food was limited to General Tso takeout and my roommate’s rice cooker. To say dining in China was a shock to my system is an understatement.

In my company’s cafeteria, sharp elbows and a strong stomach were the only ways to survive the hordes of employees clamoring for a tray and a spoonful of chicken feet. And pig intestines, dregs of fat, and a mystery dish called “shrapnel forget return.” For weeks, plain white rice was my only ally: surprisingly easy to pick up with chopsticks, and gentle on my inexperienced digestive system.

It wasn’t long before I was yearning for a pizza, or crispy orange duck. So, one day after work, I passed up another meal of rice à la rice and ventured to the outskirts of “town.” This is what I found: a winding dirt road, an unmarked bus stop furnished with a billiards table, and a gaggle of taxis staring me down (the foreign population hit 50 people this year, an astonishingly low number in this city of 7.7 million people). There were children perched on milk crates screaming hello, garages masquerading as storefronts, trucks toting chicken coops, and bicycles loaded with scraps of cardboard.

Stray cats lurked in the shadow of a man pulling long, perfect, made-to-order strands of noodles. Rusted pots and rolls of toilet paper substituting for napkins added to the charm.

Although I had a suitcase brimming with Tums, I hesitated to partake in the delicacies of the street. And then I saw it: a wooden table, more-or-less broken chairs, an aging barbecue pit, and a freezer stocked with various animal parts smothered in MSG. A rusting child’s bike lay between me, dinner, and a night kneeling by the squat toilet.

I had two choices: Make a run for the cafeteria or stay. With the trepidation of a contestant on Fear Factor I picked up my chopsticks. Unbelievably delicious, to-die-for flavors filled my mouth: eel, squid, chicken, pigs’ ears, eggplant. Food never tasted so good. For a grand total of 22 yuan, a smidge over $3, I ate like a queen.

I could tell a thousand stories about my summer in China – the phrases I learned on the basketball court, the incredible architecture that pops up overnight, the way children beg for money.

But it was the fundamental need to eat that shaped my most vivid memories. From chicken feet to snakeskin (my new favorite food), from dumplings to cicadas (my least favorite food), eating in China was as unusual as it gets. To think I could have subsisted solely on white rice would have been a travesty.

My greatest lesson learned: Never judge a book by its cover, or an eatery by its barbecue pit, tables, lack of proper signage, or health-code violations. And remember, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Thanks for reading! Check out the World News Link!


 I love to write. I also love to talk.

To anyone looking for an energizing activity, I highly suggest writing and giving a speech. Presenting your voice to the world is the most exhilarating feeling, and the applause and laughter along the way is much more  fun than even the most encouraging comments on a blog post!

Click on over to the video + raw text from my commencement speech as the chosen student representative at Carnegie Mellon University’s 112th Graduation Ceremony on May 17th, 2009. I auditioned for this role and was selected by a panel of my peers. I was assigned a speech writing coach from the Tepper School of Business, but truly it was the eight years of Mock Trial that helped the most. That, and seeing my friends and family’s smiling faces in the sea of thousands.


2 thoughts on “i.write

  1. Pingback: Discover! AsiaTown « Cleveland Socialite

  2. Pingback: why I write | ali.the.architect

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