September 6, 2013 § Leave a Comment
“The question of what kind of city we want cannot be divorced from that of what kind of social ties, relationship to nature, lifestyles, technologies and aesthetic values we desire. The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. It is, moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanization. The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.” – David Harvey: The Right to the City
This excerpt from David Harvey’s essay, “The Right to the City” has been weighing very heavily on me lately. It succinctly expresses the problem and solution to the question of urbanity. The problem: urbanity, currently, allows us to conceive of ourselves as autonomous individuals who merely exist in a codified system. This complicates “social ties, (our) relationship to nature, lifestyles, technologies and aesthetic values…” and we are left with a society very much like the one you and I know and experience on a day-to-day basis. The beauty, and answer to this dilemma resides in the fact that our initial understanding of the modern condition of urbanity has been askew all along. Urbanity is inherently co-dependent, and relational rather than independent and egocentric. Knowing this is empowering and taking this sentiment to heart has the capacity to be transformative in every sense of the word.
Part of the reason that we have so many societal wows is because we often think of ourselves as individuals rather than members of a larger whole. It should go without saying that this phenomena is shaped, in large part, by economic systems that we, seemingly, have no control over. The transformative power of Harvey’s sentiments is how his solution has been framed, namely; it is our right to transform systems, particularly given the fact that we created them. The shame of the situation resides in the fact that a system that we has become perverted to no longer serve the interests of the masses, and perpetuate divisive tactics that underscore the believe in the individual over and above the common(s) good.
So, how do we shift paradigms, what steps need to be taken to re-awaken our sense of community, and belonging to and for one another?
It can also look like this:
Cities are ours lets see that they help us to see, really see, each other as dependent upon each other because we are.
January 16, 2013 § 1 Comment
Last night, on January 15th, I had the privilege of seeing Italian ethnographer, and Rust-Belt lover, Allessandro Coppola, speak at Cleveland State University as part of the Levin College of Urban Affairs Public Forum program.Dr. Coppola was revealing his findings from his most recent work, ‘Apocalypse Town: Tales from the End of Urban Civilization’, a title he fiercely detested but, in the end, was forced to accept. His book, yet to be translated from Italian to English, tells the story that readers of this blog are familiar with; shrinking cities wrought by de-industrialization, failed urban renewal programs, and governmental policies that favor sprawl over a robust urban core.
The perspective of his lecture bore greater significance than its content. This is not a jab or backhanded compliment to Dr. Coppola, but rather a recognition of the fact that most of the audience last night knew on a personal level the very phenomena he had been trying to convey to his Italian audience. He knew this, the crowd knew this, and it was through this mutual understanding that gave us, Cleveland natives and in a very clear sense the subjects of his book, a space to step back and really take in the magnitude of our work, our struggle, and our vision.
January 14, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Last week, the folks over at Richard Florida’s The Atlantic Cities wrote a real think piece. The article, entitled ‘How Economic Segregation Spreads Crime like a Virus’, is built upon a fairly simple and understandable premise; when varying economic groups are living within isolation, rather than integration, crime rates rise. Mind blowing, right?!
So why am I wasting my time telling you about a real whoop-dee-doo article that came out of intensive research from the cats over at the Brookings Institute and the D.C. Crime Policy Institute? Because in no uncertain terms is this article littered with unadulterated classism and ambiguous flashes of racism, and that’s a real problem. Not to mention that I think we can all agree with the idea that eugenics is a bad thing.
July 10, 2012 § 1 Comment
This past week The Daily Mail featured a photo essay by St. Louis photographer Demond Meek entitled “Slum Beautiful” in which the artist chronicled some of the city’s abandoned buildings and crumbling lots. In the article, “City of Ghosts,” Meek told the Daily Mail, “I wanted to focus on the buildings that were once considered beautiful or treasures- a few that could be fixed up with a little bit of love.”
April 26, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Earlier this month, on April 6, the foreclosure settlement was approved in federal court, despite its obvious flaws. But as they say, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade–so what do you do with a bad deal like the foreclosure settlement? With the $1.5 billion it netted as a region, the Midwest has come up with some possible answers, although there’s always room for improvement.
April 25, 2012 § Leave a Comment
You’re right to be skeptical about co-working spaces. Let’s face it, you might be more concerned about finding “work,” period. But last week I had the opportunity to sit down with two pretty incredible people, Graham Veysey and Emmett McDermott, and talk about their newest venture, Cowork Cleveland. There, I got a glimpse of the future of work.
April 23, 2012 § Leave a Comment
April 14, 2012 § 2 Comments
This past weekend I was in South Haven, Michigan, on Michigan’s dazzling western coast. Although this remote lakeside town is usually pretty quiet, nowadays the airwaves are abuzz with television ads attacking Rick Snyder, the state’s Republican governor, for his proposal to build a second international bridge between Detroit and Windsor.
March 21, 2012 § 2 Comments
There has not been a new, enclosed mall to open in the United States, the land of malls and honey, since 2006. This might not seem to be too significant, but given our country’s obsession with shopping, the comfort of remaining in a climate-controlled environment for as long as humanly possible, eating at mediocre chain restaurants, and our fetishization of a suburban-style utopia that just wont go away; trust me, it’s a very big deal.
Indoor shopping malls, for the purposes of retail, are dying and it is a good thing. It is good because it is creating the opportunities to re-think what these massive properties can mean for a neighborhood, and how, through their abandonment, help point toward what is truly important and valuable to a community.