Getting through “The Daily Grind” – Zanya Harriott’s Uncommon Knowledge Project

How do the material, cultural, intellectual, and social contributions of African Americans shape your day to day life?

This is a question that Zanya Harriott ’14 is asking members of the Haverford community to consider in her week-long project, “Uncommon Knowledge” in which students, faculty, and staff have been invited to make the attempt to live their day-to-day lives without crucial inventions by black people; you can follow the project by going to the OMA Facebook page, which you can get to from the button on

Zanya is offering nightly video updates on the challenges for the next day, along with histories of inventors such as Alice H. Parker, (whose patent # 1,325,905 is illustrated on the right) who in 1919 invented a heater with a mechanism that regulated the flow of heat to different rooms in a building (my household tried to do without this but when the interior hit 57 degrees, key constituencies staged a successful revolt).

For today, the theme is “The Daily Grind” — what are those common items that are ubiquitous and part of the fabric of our everyday lives?