Just Adaptation; community building and participatory-governance

Instigated by this article from the @buellcenter on ‘Just Adaptation

Wherein we learn

In cities that have already faced the need to adapt, there have emerged three distinct, but related reasons that labor organizations should play a central role when developing a just adaptation agenda

The lesson(s)?

adaptation planning and design in the U.S., like professional planning and design more generally, has not focused on the interests of workers. Planning for a just adaptation will require making workers central participants.

Moreover, as much as some becry #publicmeetings (and I am all for re-imagining forms of #participatorygovernance) or the slow nature of infrastructure / #megaprojects in a democratic state I couldn’t agree with the following more !!!

finally, adaptation should emphasize an approach of democratic deliberation, debate, and collective decision making, wherein those who will be most impacted by climate change and adaptation efforts have a central place in shaping these processes.

On a related note, some food for thought regarding role of public input, meetings and neighborhood groups in city planning and civic activism.

I think it’s important to recognize that the historical and socioeconomic context in which calls for grassroots, democratic planning came around has in many cases vanished…There is still a threat of displacement and destructive change, but it comes from the opposite end of the spectrum, from a hyperactive real estate market and the desire of many more people than the city has been willing to build housing for wanting to live here. Already in the time period that Crockett narrates privileged voices were figuring out how to use the democratic planning process to subvert planning aims of social justice and integration. We can’t, and we won’t, throw out the baby of democratic planning and extensive public outreach with the bathwater of urban renewal and highway building. But we can, and must, recognize that there are tensions between promising all comers a democratic process and achieving egalitarian, democratic outcomes.

Finally, read Professor Eitan D. Hersh’s editorial regarding the importance of “face-to-face political communities” and why ultimately creating community and further political change is about “working in groups to turn one vote into more than one vote, one voice into more than one voice, by getting others on board with you.

re: flygskam + idea of moving at a “consciously slower speed” of “staying put” vs a simplistic “connoisseurship of places” et al.,

a strange double-consciousness…the way…each of us, undertaking our mundane lives, is…invisibly contributing to the damage, our habits…hobbies inseparable from flooding in Bangladesh, droughts in East Africa and extreme heatwaves“.

More via Kyle Chayka in Frieze

re: how to achieve #EquityByDesign

I am very familiar with the above # / phrase in connection with attempts/work to make architecture/design professions more equitable and representative, ones.

Originally launched out of AIA San Francisco back in 2012/2013, it is now a more far-reaching effort in partnership with among others ACSA.

Searching through the Twitter # though, I came across above from National Equity Project, which led me to the work of Liberating Structures. Although these two organizations share the # / phrase with AEC efforts, the former comes at the issue from a lens of education reform while the later is more generally concerned with using various, approaches, techniques and workshop methods (including those represented below) to help organizations “generate innovation and great results“.

Apparently the terms use in education reform circles goes back to at least 2015 as outlined in this AACU essay.

re: Embeddedness

Embeddedness, in this way, was about the double anchors of community and place. It required, on the one hand, the help of others – not primarily because of their material aid but because ‘they are real and therefore looking at them, being with them, you become real in that moment’ – but it also required an individual openness to the physicality of the world: the seasons, the rising and setting of the sun, the trees and animals and rain.

via Aeon Magazine re: John Berger

From Fall 2019 in Places

In October, Karl Kullman presenteda survey of three lava fields that have catalyzed creative interventions: on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, where lavatics re-inhabited a residential tract buried by an eruption; on the Icelandic island of Heimaey, where townspeople engineered a lava flow to save their harbor, then cultivated a garden on the basalt; and in Mexico City, where urban encroachment on the San Ángel lava fields has been inscribed in a megalithic sculptural work.

Topographic map of Espacio Escultórico, showing the surface of the exposed lava in contrast to the surrounding vegetated lava. [Karl Kullmann]

In the same month, Shannon Mattern published Fugitive Libraries.

With an eye towards shaping conversations around “libraries of the future” she notes “By choice or by necessity, many marginalized communities have established their own independent, itinerant, fugitive libraries, which respond to conditions of exclusion and oppression.” The rest of her piece reviews both historical and contemporary examples of these alternatives to “public” libraries. In many cases aka “the pasts and futures of Black critical pedagogies“.

Alexis Pauline Gumbs with a book altar at the opening ceremony for the Black Feminist Bookmobile, Center for Documentary Studies, Durham, North Carolina, 2017. [Sangodare]

Finally, Timothy A. Schuler penned a paean to the Kansas Flint Hills. The geology, history native tallgrass prairie and it’s ongoing cultural renaissance and economic revitalization. Yet, he cautions

One study estimated more than half, and estimated further that one out of every five large parcels is owned by a corporation. 23 More relevant, perhaps, was the revelation in the same study that the largest properties changed hands regularly, a fact that ran counter to the public image of the ranching industry, which peddles a narrative of multi-generational ownership. A person can only speculate as to how absentee ownership has affected the health of the tallgrass ecosystem. But at the least, it is likely that the patchwork of land ownership will complicate landscape-scale conservation efforts. Indeed, current economic and land-use trends threaten to fundamentally alter the tallgrass prairie landscape in Kansas.

Prescribed burns in the Flint Hills, between Manhattan and Topeka. [Elise Kirk]

From Early/Late Summer 2019 in Places

Back in July, David Heymann reflected on the implications of the fact that “Public art is a growth sector for architects” inspired by a trip to Tippet Rise Art Center in Montana.

In particular, he explains how it vexes him “to think of art-like work done by architects as art. I don’t mean to be simplistic about boundaries between disciplines. But if an architect did it, I prefer to think of it as — and to call it — architecture.”

All rights reserved by namhenderson via https://www.flickr.com/photos/namhenderson/albums/72157684539161002

Then in August, James Barilla asked “Englishness in the garden — what is it?” and explored the tension between cosmopolitan and native.

Finally, in September Nicholas Ferguson wrote about the Grow / Transition Heathrow camp / movement. On a visit he finds “treehouses which signal that we are in a distinctive aesthetic realm, at once a space of leisure and a zone of politics and anxieties more commonly encountered in science fiction.

Entrance to Grow Heathrow. via Nicholas Ferguson

Ultimately, the visit leads him to wonder >

How many years will it be before a future generation of peregrini are pitching their tents under the ruins of Heathrow Terminal 5? From where will they come, and what futures might they imagine?

excerpts from ‘Platform Nihilism’

By scrolling, swiping, and flipping, we hungry ghosts try to fill the existential emptiness, frantically searching for a determining sign — and failing. When the phone hurts and you cry together, that’s technological sadness.


Public access to a 21st-century version of Dadaism has been blocked. The absence of surrealism hurts. What could our social fantasies look like? Are legal constructs such as creative commons and cooperatives all we can come up with? It seems we’re trapped in smoothness, skimming a surface littered with impressions and notifications.

via Los Angeles Review of Books