By Anatole Tchikine in Places Journal
In their presentation Anuradha Mathur and Dilip da Cunha question our typical understanding of rain, water and river, and rephrases how all these are connected to our behaviour towards nature. They show evidence of how being gentle to water and letting it flow is always better than forcing and containing it within hard-lines of dams and barrages, and how natural drainage systems can save us during the upcoming crises of climate change rather than controlling it by force.
via Bengal Institute
“Approaches to addressing climate change that are unconcerned with its racial and colonial implications will ultimately perpetuate them. Attempts to absorb environmentalism into capitalism and neocolonialism can never address the forms of racial violence that emerge as ecological destruction…Gómez-Barris’s book begins to do this work…offers a glimpse into what kind of world may be possible through the everyday practices and knowledges of submerged perspectives”
A review of Macarena Gómez-Barris’s new book The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives (Duke University Press, 2017) by Megan Spencer.
via New Inquiry.
Back in April, Susan Piedmont-Palladino published “the Uncanny Valley“, about architecture, digital drawing and photo-realistic rendering. She first argues.
“Architecture demands an intersection; but not a total eclipse. When reality eclipses the imagination, the result is banality; when the imagination eclipses reality, then we have abandoned architecture for the untethered spheres of science fiction, or gaming, or art. It’s at this point that images become ends in themselves rather than representations of a plausible new reality.”
She then identifies two specific tells of uncanniness in this context; 1) deployment of perspective and 2) a performative inclusion of (happy) people in a drawing.
Later, Barbara Penner explored how the issues of gender, disability, and user-centeredness have been relegated to the far margins of architectural history. Yet, we read.
“Home economics comprised not only corporate consultants like Frederick but also university-based researchers such as the ones pursuing disability studies, who had a different audience and approach…Cornell’s College of Home Economics had a dedicated department of housing and design in which an all-female staff of seven instructors taught subjects ranging from furniture refurbishment to farmhouse planning. Over many decades, they developed a distinct mode of design education and practice characterized by cooperation, skills sharing, and a highly customized body-centered approach.”
Then in May, Vittoria Di Palmaand and Alexander Robinson reviewed the epic struggle for control, which characterizes the history, between Los Angeles and its river. With a hopeful look towards recent and ongoing attempts at an arts-led, DIY, revitalization.
“Indeed, the remarkable activity generated by the Los Angeles River — which as yet remains largely a concrete channel bisected by a thin course of water — testifies to the profound power of the city’s desire for ecological redemption and urban rebirth, and to ways in which civic or even poetic acts have found purchase within a byzantine network of managerial interests. Nonetheless there remains the distinct possibility that moneyed interests will distort the original ideals. Even as Los Angeles seems to pulsate with the river’s irrepressible spirit, the river’s future is clouded by a fog of unresolved social, technical, and environmental factors.”
Finally, Dr. Nitin K. Ahuja raises some concerns regarding trends “toward more formally ambitious hospice design” which utilize “evidence-based design” and “best practices” or on the flip-side, domesticated, home-hospice like spaces.
In the end although, he does believe in the merits of palliative care, he favors an “unbraiding of its clinical, economic, and aesthetic justifications. As far as aesthetics go, I’m with Nuland — I’ve seen enough vulnerability at the end of life to know that a bit of grisliness is inescapable.“
The Saturday before I left for Madison and XGM 2018, I spent the day (April 28th), learning from inspiring organizations and people, working on issues of
#foodjustice and #gentrification in; Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver and Longmont.
As the program explained “Both food and gentrification bring our focus to issues of justice/equity and demonstrate the historical experiences of many communities with institutionalized systems of oppression“.
The day was billed as an unconference. Besides thematic panel sessions, guest (welcoming, closing and keynote) talks and performances, the event included parallel/simultaneous; community mapping, walking/biking tours, and other, kid friendly, activities throughout the day.
Interestingly, last weekend, I ran into a neighbor who works in the environmental/food-justice space locally, who also attended the event. One of the first things we discussed was each other’s impression of/reaction to the Summit. The main point she argued, was the “lameness” of the experts/panelist on a stage, format. That in today’s day and age or political climate, people want a more bottom up, dialogic, interactive format. Certainly, given the billing as an “unconference”, not what the organizers intended. Though, I wondered, given neither of us attended/participated in the mapping, walks etc., if that was the “unconference” component?
The crowd was mixed, but skewed young(er). Perhaps the result of it’s location (a neighborhood school) or connection(s) to Regis University? Appearances were made by at least two City Council candidates and I believe I saw, a Mayoral candidate, (Kavyan).
The event opened, with a suggestion from one of the organizers, “Step Up / Step Back“. The idea being, those who don’t normally speak up, should and those who do, should not. Rev. Tyler of Shorter A.M.E., then provided an excellent kickstart to the day. With an exhortation to “put your privilege at the door.”
The keynote was given by Dr. Damien Thompson who laid out his vision for the “Right to the City“. I had actually met him previously, when he facilitated a joint, SEED Institute and The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, three-night event on gentrification in Denver. In 2017.
Dr. Thompson’s keynote, explained gentrification as simply one form of displacement. A chain, going back at least as far, as indigenous, dispossession. Another violence. Importantly it is, an economic process. The solution, is therefore economic development/mobilization, with democratic control, at neighborhood level.
The group, in the face of “class warfare“, proposes a wide-ranging platform. For housing CLTs, among other solutions. Presently, three homes/units, eventually, up to 150 in Globeville-Swansea and beyond. More local and rent, control. Currently outlawed, at the state level. Along with other co-operative housing and land models.
One intriguing proposal; equity or strategic zoning, addressing saturation of business types. The intended target being, to keep focus on developing housing, and reduce (in some neighborhoods at least) food and beverage or hospitality developments. Or, in the case of north Denver, industrial warehouse grows. Is the idea too reminiscent of single-use / Euclidean, NIMBY approaches to zoning, for urbanist YIMBY types?
Other members of the group, made the case for more systemic accountability in local politics. Ultimately, for why we need a “new progressive party“, a working families, Party.
Whether in the lessons offered by Mickki Langston or the words of Ara Cruz, an “Xicano/Indigenous (Nahua/Genizaro Tiwa) spoken word artist“, indigenous experiences were foregrounded throughout.
One panel featured three women from the Colorado Springs, region. The moderator began by noting that Redfin had recently ranked Colorado Springs # 2 “Worst Access to Fresh Food (Food Deserts)“. Yet the city, had just been ranked number two “Best Place to Live” in America, according to the 2018 rankings released by U.S. News & World Report. Luckily, the city is in the midst of the PlanCOS process.
One common challenge, is participation. The organization of community action. As Councilwoman Avila urged, although some in the community may take her presence as a sign to rest, they shouldn’t. As, the only way the big ship of government changes, is as a result of the pressure of citizens from the outside.
First, on Twitter
“I liked the old tunes, properly darkside like finding a body in a lift shaft: dank moody tunes, suburban tunes. I want to go back to that hardcore era of darkside someday, which would be rugged, film samples just pitched up and down with strings. It wasn’t just that pure monochrome thing, it was something else, it sounded like tearing through an empty building…I always liked deeper nighttime tunes, a bit more rolling – garage, dubstep is half pulse, half sway, so it sounds good in a car at night. I wanted to make a half euphoric record…In London, there’s a kind of atmosphere that everyone knows about but if you talk about it, it just sort of disappears. London’s part of me, I’m proud of it but it can be dark, sometimes recently I don’t even recognize it. It’s about being on a night bus, or with your mates, walking home across your city on your own late at night”
Via an old Mark Fisher interview
There can be no success in “right to the city” struggles that is not, simultaneously, a success in democratically decarbonizing urban life. Once we realize that several core stakes of right-to-the-city struggles—especially housing, transit, and land use—are the also the core stakes of low-carbon urbanism, we see that it is no longer possible (or desirable) to deeply distinguish social from environmental politics