Darcy Varney is a world traveler and an intrepid explorer of cities, towns and wild places everywhere. Guided by her own innate curiosity about how places influence who people become, she has pursued a broad education in human development, community development and urban planning and is now working on her Ph.D., studying how community values, place meaning and place attachment inform planning decision making.
For the past six years, Darcy has also worked for UN-HABITAT, the United Nations agency focused on human settlements and urban poverty. Her experiences in Nairobi, Kenya, where UN-HABITAT is headquartered, have informed much of her thinking about how place matters to people. In her work, Darcy has explored the use and meaning of places among children and youth, as well as adults. She helped establish and lead the Children, Youth and Environments journal and research center at the University of Colorado at Boulder from 2003 to 2008; served as a coordinator and researcher on the Denver Child and Youth Friendly City Initiative from 2006 to 2008; conducted informal research in partnership with youth in Nairobi’s Mathare Valley slum in 2005 and 2009; and recently co-founded the Community Storybooks project to help small-town residents preserve the “heart and soul” of their communities in an environment of rapid change.
Darcy started following her passion for places back in 1994 when, armed with a B.A. in English, she set off to explore and write in New Zealand. She later leveraged her experience to become an editor at a coffee trade magazine in Portland, Oregon, after which she studied human development and taught near Chicago, Illinois. Following a short stint teaching and learning in Izmir, Turkey, she returned home to Colorado to learn more about cities and people at the University of Colorado. She has taught and lectured extensively in the College of Architecture and Planning. Darcy is also an avid photographer who loves capturing the beautiful people and places she gets to know through experiences at home and around the world.