Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Interesting reading

1. From the H-Urban e-list:

As Co-Editor, with Italo Pardo, of Urbanities-Journal of Urban Ethnography, I am pleased to announce the publication of the new issue -- Vol. 7 No 2 November 2017. This is a Special Issue on "The Dreams and Nightmares of City Development" and it is available for free download.

Table of Contents

-- "Introduction: The Dreams and Nightmares of City Development: Urban Planning, Ideologies and Social Movements in Contemporary Cities," Olsi Lelaj and Nebi Bardhoshi
-- "Urban Transformations, Ideologies of Planning and Actors’ Interplay in a Booming City - Austin, Texas," by Marie Le Guen
-- "Landscapes of Globalization in Ordinary Towns: Logistics and Trade Apparatus," by Fabrice Raffin, with Oliver Pollet
-- "Transforming Places, Changing Deities: Forms of Spatial and Symbolic Negotiation in Marseille," by Maria Elena Buslacchi
-- "Institutional Actors in Action: Building Governance in the City," by Paola De Vivo
-- "Youth in Ramallah: Internal Fragmentation under Occupation," by Mariangela Gasparotto
-- "Cities and the Ideology of Cultural Participation: A Discussion with Reference to the ‘Opening-up’ of Museums," by Bella Dicks

2. Busing people somewhere else as a way to address homelessness.  There is a fascinating analysis by The Guardian of the method of busing out of a community people who are homeless. The team studied multiple years of data from the primary cities including San Francisco, New York City, Key West, Santa Monica, Salt Lake, and Denver, using this as a technique. It works for some people, not others, but there is no follow up study or analysis of the efficacy.

The article has some great graphics and visualizations.

-- "Bussed out: how America moves its homeless"

For example, in studying all the cases in San Francisco, they found that if the city hadn't done the bus ticket program, the number of homeless would be more than double.

To me, homelessness is more a function of the failure to have a national policy, practice, and funding for dealing with it.  Cities get the problem dumped on them because cities tend to have a more progressive electorate which results in a commitment to offer more in the way of social services.

Cities are a destination anyway, not just for people who are super successful, but also for people seeking to change their lives or better circumstances.

For the people where that change doesn't work out, city programs end up being a primary provider of homeless services.

But homelessness generally is the result of problematic personal, familial and social relations, exacerbated by the high cost of housing.

Cities aren't set up to break that spiral, especially with people who have limited local ties and profound needs.

The busing method has its faults. Just as I say "take it outside" in altercations in nightlife establishments isn't a solution, merely a displacement, the same goes for sending people to other jurisdictions. They do probably have more family ties in those places and a better functioning community network, but that isn't enough in and of itself to right the situation.

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Types of Use Values from Place*(* From chapter four of Urban Fortunes: Toward a Political Economy of Place.)

Daily Round: The place of residence is a focal point for the wider routine in which one's concrete daily needs are satisfied.

Informal Support Networks: Place of residence is the potential support of an information network of people who provide life-sustaining products and services.

Security and Trust: A neighborhood also provides a sense of physical and psychic security that comes with a familiar and dependable environment.

Identity: A neighborhood provides its residents with an important source of identity, both for themselves and for others. Neighborhoods offer a resident not only spatial demarcations but social demarcations as well.

Agglomeration Benefits: A shared interest in overlapping use values (identity, security, and so on) in a single area is a useful way to define neighborhood.Ethnicity: Not infrequently, these benefits are encapsulated in a shared enthnicity... When this occurs, ethnicity serves as a summary characterization of all the overlapping benefits of neighborhood life.

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Two other articles about homelessness that are relevant:

-- "Are drug rehab centers fueling homelessness in Southern California?," Orange County Register
-- "Seattle Navigation Center gets people out of tents, but getting them into housing is tougher," Seattle Times

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