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Friday, February 21st 4-5:30pm
Office for Public Culture, 428 Bridge Street NW (intersection of Bridge, Broadway, Summer)
This event is Free and open to the public.
(coffee and light snacks provided)
What right do people have to occupy urban space?
Recent events in Grand Rapids—such as the displacement of non-commodified, cultural spaces, the (ab)Use of city property, and the issue of homelessness and the political environment—call for some reflection about the way that we think about residents and spaces. What responsibilities do cities have to provide space(s) for people to occupy and how might we organize the politics and economics of such provisions?
The "Right to the City” was one of several major concepts developed by urbanist Henri Lefebvre. For Lefebvre in Paris, the idea emerged as both a cry (of pain and suffering) and a demand (for change and alternatives) surrounding the 1968 revolutions and uprisings happening in cities all around the world. As Lefebvre describes, the Right to the City is a “demand...[for] a transformed and renewed access to urban life." David Harvey (author of Rebel Cities) has extensively written on Lefebvre and the Right to the City and says, “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.”
Topics to discuss include the right/access to urban life, the demands of the right to the city, the role capitalism and neoliberalism play in financial crises (particularly 2008), the commons versus the public goods, culture as the ultimate commodity (and its subsequent exploitation), the urban “precariat,” (the monopoly of) rent in the urban environment, and the possibility of collective action for radical social change.
Recent, local examples:
Displacement of non-commodified, cultural spaces – DAAC, The Bloom Collective
Homelessness and the political environment – Spatial dynamics surrounding the Downtown Market and the highway underpass and other locations
(ab)Use of public property – City-owned land, South Field, Movies in the Park
Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/215405818583517/
Join the Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1407873036131054
Resources for the Discussion:
We recommend spending some time with these three resources before the discussion, but if you don't please join us anyway:
1. Video: Are Slums the GLobal Future?, by Ananya Roy
(If video does not load try refreshing the page)
(if embedded video does not work follow this link to the video http://youtube.com/embed/1xk7dr3VG6s)
Ananya Roy is Professor of City and Regional Planning and Distinguished Chair in Global Poverty and Practice at the University of California, Berkeley. As Education Director at the Blum Center for Developing Economies she works on the Global Poverty Project and has produced a series of short videos. In "Are The Slums the Global Future" she talks about the "Right to the City". (you might have to refresh the page to get the video to load).
2. Text: From Critical Urban Theory to the Right to the City, by Peter Marcuse
This 12 page text gives a comprehensive overview of the idea of Right to the City and its various applications. We recommend reading the last 6 pages starting at "Section III Right to the CIty" to get to the major parts of the idea. The first half of the article (before section III) presents an introduction and context to the idea that is informative, but not essential to our discussion.
3. Video:"Place, Capitalism, and the Right to the City" Neil Brenner at the Creative Time Summit
Neil Brenner is Professor of Urban Theory at Harvard Graduate School of Design and asks: Can place be a productive basis for a politics of social justice in the world today? This presentation was the keynote address for the Creative Time Summit on Art, Place, and Dislocation in the 21st Century City. In October of 2013 the Office for Public Culture presented the Summit live at the Grand Rapids Art Museum in an event called OPC + CTS.
4. THE RIGHT TO THE CITY AND THE STRUGGLES OVER PUBLIC CITIZENSHIP
THE RIGHT TO THE CITY AND THE STRUGGLES OVER PUBLIC CITIZENSHIP: exploring the links by Anna Plyushteva as part of the Urban Reinventors project and journal. This includes a really great overview of the idea and various applications and issues that arise in application.
Here are other relevant resources related to "Right to the City":
Poverty Map in America, NYT
Wikipedia - Right to the City
Right to the City, by David HarveyThis essay introduces the idea of Right to the City, and outlines the political/economic frameworks that impact urban development. This essay was included in Harvey's recent book, Rebel Cities, From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution.
World Charter for Right to the City
Right to the City MovementThis is the link to the Movement, which has numerous local chapters.
Platform for NY-based Right to the City
Fortress LA by Mike Davis
Additional short videos from Ananya Roy and the Global Poverty Project:
Who is Dependent on Poverty
Who Profits from Poverty
Can We Shop to End Poverty?
Who Sees Poverty?