5th Annual ‘Forward Food Summit’

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 and 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.

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My attendance, made it into a photo on The Alliance Center Events | site dated 5/2018

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.

It was especially exciting to learn more about Denver Community Action Network and the policy platform they are developing. I first heard of them through social media via developer Kyle Zeppelin.

Big themes of the Denver CAN policy platform

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

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re: the “downcast euphoria” of Burial

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

Recommended via Fred Scharmen aka sevensixfive here

re: decarbonizing urbanism

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

Via Daniel Aldana Cohen

Recently in Places

Two published this month;

Daegan Miller, On the liberation cartography of Henry David Thoreau, which concludes

It is tempting to read Thoreau’s river survey as a satirical anti-map, a snide rejection of disciplinary pretension that leaves its viewer wallowing in relativism. How could anyone measure anything with a tripolar scale whose differing notions of what an inch is babble over each other? But irony is only one of the tropes that Thoreau drew on. He was always more interested in improvement than deconstruction, and his countermodern map is affirming in its self-aware subjectivity, its desire to picture Concord as situated in a landscape teeming with life and human usage. This was a political choice. If Baldwin’s and Perham’s Concord River is anonymous and untouched and dead, an ahistorical space that denies change, a river that can be manipulated and controlled; then all those notes pinpointing where the plants grew, all those piles of figures and ghosts of surveys past, make of Thoreau’s a deep map — a view of an impressively interconnected world where nature, commerce, culture, history, and imagination all grow together — something nonfungible and specific: a full, a wild land living at once beyond and beneath the confined landscape of the town’s grasping improvers, both agricultural and industrial, who, despite their superficial differences, ultimately agreed that the best use of a river is to turn a profit.

Lizzie Yarina on Negotiating rhetorics and imaginaries of climate resilience, wherein she examines four large cities in Southeast Asia facing major climate risks: Jakarta, Manila, Ho Chi Minh City, and Bangkok. As she explains

Across Southeast Asia, infrastructures (often at incredible scales) are promoted as the answer to climate and environmental risks. Importantly, these projects provide an image of resilience, even if the actual merits are uncertain. But when I spoke with technical experts on the ground in these four cities, they emphasized the gap between what is attractive and what is needed….But the deeper and more insidious problem is that the technocratic language of climate adaptation rationalizes mass evictions….Too often, global media and institutions measure the impact of disasters by their monetary cost, rather than by the number of lives lost or impaired. We must ask, then, whether climate change adaptation is framed through the same lens. Do resilience projects truly alleviate risks for those who are most vulnerable to floods, storms, and heat? Or do they protect investments and foster speculative development by global elites? When adaptation planning is sponsored by developers or international banks, these categories become blurry. 

9 reasons why ‘Zero-Carbon Buildings’ is the wrong target

Therefore;

“For architects and their clients, and others in the construction industry, the right scale is almost certainly at a single building, site or project scale. However, we should be focussed on radical energy efficiency, not on balancing complex CO2 accounts.

Passivhaus Standard buildings are radically energy efficient and ensure very low CO2 emissions over the lifetime of the building. And importantly, passivhaus buildings match this with simplicity, comfort and reliability.

Read more, via Elrond Burrell

Recently in e-flux;

In October of last year, Brian Holmes dug into “a condition of relational awareness” aka “Anthropocene public space“. Concluding with this challenge

For artists and activists seeking to transform the conclusions of climate science into the convictions of embodied experience, the golden spike is each local place and singular moment in time when a group of people is able to come to grips with their own implication in earth-system processes. Because abstract knowledge is always intertwined with embodied experience, such places and moments in time are never purely local or singular. To take form and consistency as a widely sharable practice of perception/expression, Anthropocene public space must seek the correlation of situated knowledges and experiences.

Then in November, Nicholas Korody penned Mere Decorating. As he explains

While the work of the architect ends with construction, the inhabitant-cum-decorator must continuously maintain the home, adjusting it to suit new tastes. Decorating is the under-recognized labor that constitutes the interior as such through the placement and upkeep of objects and things, such as bibelots, carpets, and houseplants, within pre-existing built space.

He goes on to review the history of 19th century pteridomania, and the contemporary Millennial interest in houseplants (aka phytomania or “fern-fever“).

Finally later that same month, Peggy Dreamer offered some criticism of “Typical American Institute of Architects (AIA) ‘design-bid-build’ contracts“, National AIA and “relational contract theory” as it might apply to ideas of class, labor and architectural praxis.