robertogreco + placemaking + community   7

Making the Ordinary Visible: Interview with Yasar Adanali : Making Futures
"Yaşar Adanalı defines his work over the past decade as being that of a “part time academic researcher and part time activist”. He is one of the founders of the Center for Spatial Justice in Istanbul, an urban institute that focuses on issues of spatial justice in Istanbul and beyond. In this interview, he reflects upon “continuance” as a tool of engagement, the power of attending to the ordinary within the production of space, and the different types of public that this works seeks to address.

What led to the founding of the Center for Spatial for Justice and how does its work relate to the worlds of academia, activism and urbanism?

I’m interested in questions regarding spatial production in general and more specifically justice – the injustices that derive from spatial processes or the spatial aspect of social injustices. The Center for Spatial Justice takes the acronym MAD in Turkish – a MAD organisation against mad projects, that’s our founding moto. We bring together people from different disciplines such as architects, urban planners, artists, journalists, filmmakers, lawyers and geographers to produce work in relation to what’s going here: grassroots struggles in the city and in the countryside. The Center for Spatial Justice believes in the interconnectedness of urban and rural processes.

As educator and an activist, you work both within and outside an institutional setting. Have you been able to take the latter experience back into the academy and if so, what in particular? How do these two roles inform each other?

Since 2014 I have been teaching a masters design studio at TU Darmstadt. It’s a participatory planning course that both follows and supports a cooperative housing project in Düzce, Turkey, produced for and by the tenants who were badly affected by the 1999 earthquake. Over the course of the past five years, the master students have been developing a 4000 sq m housing project from scratch. The students from Darmstadt come to Istanbul as interns, working partly on the project. The result is a long-lasting relationship with the neighbourhoods in question and with the organisations we have been working with.

Apart from that, through MAD and Beyond Istanbul we develop summer and winter schools – non-academic experiences that similarly bridge the gap between the alternative universe and the mainstream universe. When you start to put critical questions into the minds of the students, these linger and they then take them back to the university, so their friends and professors also become exposed to that. We prefer to develop this approach outside of the university so that we are freed from bureaucracy and rigid structures but we keep it open to enrolled students and professors.

What are some particular strategies and methodologies that you adopt to engender this approach to urban practice? How do you involve local residents, for example?

That building of long-term relationships with communities is why we do a lot of walking. Our research questions are informed by the community and the site we arrive at – we do not predetermine hypotheses in advance. We remain in direct contact with different groups in the city and walk through these territories – with the neighbourhood association – not just once but every week. We listen to a lot of stories and record them. Oral histories are an important part of the ethnographic enquiry.

We also use mapping, a tool commonly used to exert power but that nature can be reversed. Through mapping we reclaim territories that have perhaps been “erased” – that is, transformed by injustice. We also map informal areas and then give those maps to the communities there because the way they appear on official plans often doesn’t reflect how things look on the ground. What looks like a carpark in the plan might be someone’s house; what’s represented as a commercial development might currently be a neighbourhood park or some other form of already existing social infrastructure.

In addition, we try to embed journalistic means within our academic interests, which is why we work with documentary journalists and photographers on each of our projects. We broadcast spatial justice news videos, in depth films that offer 8-10 minutes of reporting on a particular issue, giving it context and also pointing towards possible solutions. Solution journalism, which doesn’t just focus on crisis, is very important in the work we do.

As part of its work making spatial injustices visible, MAD publishes a wide range of materials. Which are the publics you try to communicate with through this?

Research has to be coupled with a conscious effort to communicate because you want to make change. We don’t want to make research for the sake of research or produce publications for the sake of publishing. We want to create those publics you allude to – and to influence them. We are addressing people involved in the discipline in its broadest sense: planners, architects, sociologists, activists, but perhaps most especially students who are interested in spatial issues, urban questions and environmental concerns. They are our main target. We want them to understand that their discipline has much more potential than what they are learning at university. I’m not saying the entire education system is wrong but there is much larger perspective beyond it and great potential for collaboration with other disciplines and engagement with different publics as well.

Another important public is the one directly involved with our work, i.e. the community that is being threatened by renewal projects. These groups are not only our public but also our patrons – we are obliged to be at their service and offer technical support, whether that’s recording a meeting with the mayor or analysing a plan together. Then there is the larger audience of broader society, who we hope to encourage to think of and engage with these issues of inequality and spatial justice.

I found an interesting quote on your webpage that says that the founding of MAD “is an invitation to understand the ordinary in an extraordinary global city context”. Can you talk a little about the urban context of Istanbul, Turkey and why the focus on the ordinary?

Everything about Istanbul is extraordinary: transformation, speed, scale. We are interested in making the ordinary visible because when we focus so much on the mega-projects, on the idea of the global city, then the rest of the city is made invisible. We look beyond the city centre – the façade – and beyond the mainstream, dominant discourse. This “ordinary” is the neighbourhood, nature and that which lies beyond the spectacle – other Turkish cities, for example. This approach can entail initiatives that range from historical urban gardening practices, working with informal neighbourhoods subject to eviction and relocation processes, or rural communities on the very eastern border currently threatened by new mine projects.

More specifically, today we live in an extraordinary state. The public arena is in a deep crisis and the democratic institutions and their processes do not really deserve our direct involvement right now. Having said that, there are different pockets within these systems, municipal authorities that operate differently, for example, and when we find these we work with them, but we remain realistic with regards to our limits. The “now” in Turkey has been lost in the sense that its relevance is not linked to the future beyond or to the next generation. That is a deep loss. But if you have the vision and the production means, if you set up a strong system, build the capacity first of yourself and then of the groups your work with, then when the right moment comes, all of these elements will flourish."
urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  cities  maps  mapping  neighborhoods  unschooling  deschooling  education  independence  lcproject  openstudioproject  justice  visibility  istanbul  turkey  ethnography  inquiry  erasure  injustice  infrastructure  socialinfrastructure  2018  rosariotalevi  speed  scale  transformation  walking  community  yasaradanali  space  placemaking  interconnectedness  interconnected  geography  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  socialjustice  architecture  design  film  law  legal  filmmaking  journalism  rural  engagement 
december 2018 by robertogreco
crap futures — Back to nature
"We live on a remote island - mountainous, mid-Atlantic, still heavily forested and pretty wild - and for that reason nature sometimes sneaks into our otherwise technology-centred work. It is hard not to think local when you live in a place like this. We’re neither farmers nor pioneers - except in the sense that resident aliens on this island are few - but lately our reading has got us thinking about ancient paths and rural places. We’ll discuss the paths today and save most of the farm talk for a future post.

Paths v roads

In his 1969 essay ‘A Native Hill’, Wendell Berry - the American writer, farmer, activist, and ‘modern Thoreau’ - makes a useful distinction between paths and roads:
The difference between a path and a road is not only the obvious one. A path is little more than a habit that comes with knowledge of a place. It is a sort of ritual of familiarity. As a form, it is a form of contact with a known landscape. It is not destructive. It is the perfect adaptation, through experience and familiarity, of movement to place; it obeys the natural contours; such obstacles as it meets it goes around. A road, on the other hand … embodies a resistance against the landscape. Its reason is not simply the necessity for movement, but haste. Its wish is to avoid contact with the landscape. … It is destructive, seeking to remove or destroy all obstacles in its way.


Aside from conversation as usual, the reason we are talking about Berry is the arrival of a new film, Look & See, and a new collection of his writing, The World-Ending Fire, edited by Paul Kingsnorth of Dark Mountain Project fame. Berry and Kingsnorth, along with the economist Kate Raworth, were on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week recently chatting about the coming apocalypse and how it might best be avoided. It is a fascinating interview: you can actually hear Berry’s rocking chair creaking and the crows cawing outside the window of his house in Port Royal, Kentucky.

The normally optimistic Berry agrees somewhat crankily to read ‘the poem that you asked me to read’ on the programme. ‘Sabbaths 1989’ describes roads to the future as going nowhere: ‘roads strung everywhere with humming wire. / Nowhere is there an end except in smoke. / This is the world that we have set on fire.’ Berry admits that this poem is about as gloomy as he gets (‘blessed are / The dead who died before this time began’). For the most part his writing is constructive: forming a sensual response to cold, atomised modernity; advocating for conviviality, community, the commonweal.

Paul Kingsnorth talks compellingly in the same programme about transforming protest into action, although in truth no one walks the walk like Berry. Kingsnorth says: ‘We’re all complicit in the things we oppose’ - and never were truer words spoken, from our iPhones to our energy use. In terms of design practice, there are worse goals than reducing our level of complicity in environmental harm and empty consumerism. Like Berry, Kingsnorth talks about paths and roads. He asks: ‘Why should we destroy an ancient forest to cut twelve minutes off a car journey from London to Southampton? Is that a good deal?’

It’s a fair question. It also illustrates perfectly what Berry was describing in the passage that started this post: the difference between paths that blend and coexist with the local landscape, preserving the knowledge and history of the land, and roads that cut straight through it. These roads are like a destructive and ill-fitting grid imposed from the centre onto the periphery, without attention to the local terrain or ecology or ways of doing things - both literally (in the case of energy) and figuratively.

Another book we read recently, Holloway, describes ancient paths - specifically the ‘holloways’ of South Dorset - in similar terms:
They are landmarks that speak of habit rather than of suddenness. Like creases in the hand, or the wear on the stone sill of a doorstep or stair, they are the result of repeated human actions. Their age chastens without crushing. They relate to other old paths & tracks in the landscape - ways that still connect place to place & person to person.


Holloways are paths sunk deep into the landscape and into the local history. Roads, in contrast, skip over the local - collapsing time as they move us from one place to the next without, as it were, touching the ground. They alienate us in our comfort.

Here in Madeira there are endless footpaths broken through the woods. Still more unique are the levadas, the irrigation channels that run for more than two thousand kilometres back and forth across the island, having been brought to Portugal from antecedents in Moorish aqueduct systems and adapted to the specific terrain and agricultural needs of Madeira starting in the sixteenth century.

Both the pathways through the ancient laurel forests and the centuries-old levadas (which, though engineered, were cut by hand and still follow the contours and logic of the landscape) contrast with the highways and tunnels that represent a newer feat of human engineering since the 1970s. During his controversial though undeniably successful reign from 1978 to 2015 - he was elected President of Madeira a remarkable ten times - Alberto João Jardim oversaw a massive infrastructure program that completely transformed the island. Places that used to be virtually unreachable became accessible by a short drive. His legacy, in part, is a culture of automobile dependency that is second to none. The American highway system inspired by Norman Bel Geddes’ (and General Motors’) Futurama exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair almost pales in comparison to Jardim’s vision for the rapid modernisation of Madeira.

But when you walk the diesel-scented streets of the capital, or you drive through the holes bored deep into and out of towering volcanic mountains to reach the airport - and even when you think back in history and imagine those first settlers sitting in their ships as half the island’s forest burned, watching the dense smoke of the fires they lit to make Madeira favourable to human habitation - it’s hard not to think what a catastrophically invasive species are human beings.

Bespoke is a word we use a lot. In our vocabulary bespoke is not about luxury or excess - as it has been co-opted by consumer capitalism to suggest. Instead it is about tailored solutions, fitted to the contours of a particular body or landscape. Wendell Berry insists on the role of aesthetics and proportionality in his approach to environmentalism: the goal is not hillsides covered in rows of ugly solar panels, but an integrated and deep and loving relationship with the land. This insistence on aesthetics relates to the ‘reconfiguring’ principles that inform our newest work. The gravity batteries we’ve been building are an alternative not only to the imposed, top-down infrastructure of the grid, but also to the massive scale of such solutions and our desire to work with the terrain rather than against it.

Naomi Klein talked about renewable energy in these terms in an interview a couple of years ago:
If you go back and look at the way fossil fuels were marketed in the 1700s, when coal was first commercialized with the Watt steam engine, the great promise of coal was that it liberated humans from nature … And that was, it turns out, a lie. We never transcended nature, and that I think is what is so challenging about climate change, not just to capitalism but to our core civilizational myth. Because this is nature going, ‘You thought you were in charge? Actually all that coal you’ve been burning all these years has been building up in the atmosphere and trapping heat, and now comes the response.’ … Renewable energy puts us back in dialog with nature. We have to think about when the wind blows, we have to think about where the sun shines, we cannot pretend that place and space don’t matter. We are back in the world.


In a future post we will talk about the related subject of sustainable agriculture. But speaking of food - the time has come for our toast and coffee.
2017  crapfutures  wendellberry  paths  roads  madeira  bespoke  tailoring  audiencesofone  naomiklein  sustainability  earth  normanbelgeddes  albertojoãojardim  levadas  infrastructure  permanence  capitalism  energy  technology  technosolutionsism  1969  obstacles  destruction  habits  knowledge  place  placemaking  experience  familiarity  experientialeducation  kateraworth  paulkingsnorth  darkmountainproject  modernity  modernism  holloways  nature  landscape  cars  transportation  consumerism  consumercapitalism  reconfiguration  domination  atmosphere  environment  dialog  conviviality  community  commonweal  invasivespecies  excess  humans  futurama  ecology  canon  experientiallearning 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Rebuild Foundation
"Rebuild Foundation catalyzes neighborhood revitalization through artistic practices, individual empowerment and community engagement. We accomplish this by:

Activating underutilized spaces in the community with arts and cultural programming.

Providing opportunities and spaces for neighbors to come together and engage in meaningful exchanges that spark collaborative action.

Empowering artists and creative individuals to realize their potential as community change agents.

Investing in the development of the skills and talents of local residents to catalyze entrepreneurial efforts."



"Rebuild Foundation, a not-for-profit creative engine focused on cultural-driven redevelopment and affordable space initiatives in under-resourced communities, currently manages projects in Chicago, St. Louis and Omaha. Our programs enlist teams of artists, architects, developers, educators, community activists, and residents who work together to integrate the arts, apprenticeship trade training and creative entrepreneurship into a community-driven process of neighborhood transformation. Rebuild engages an artistic practice which uses as its medium the urban fabric of under-resourced districts, bridging the creation of art with adaptive reuse of abandoned spaces and community-driven initiatives for neighborhood revitalization.

Rebuild Foundation is the creation of Chicago native, artist, urban planner, and Wall Street Journal 2012 Innovator of the Year, Theaster Gates, Jr. who has conducted innovative renovation of unused spaces and community service activities through his art practice since 2005. Rebuild received its official 501©3 status in December 2010, and immediately continued Gates’ work leveraging creative community resources to build thriving neighborhoods. We act as a catalyst in local economies by integrating arts and cultural programming, workforce enhancement, creative entrepreneurial investment, hands-on education, and artistic intervention. Rebuild began creating cultural programming in Gates' renovated and repurposed buildings first in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side. Next, Rebuild established operations in the Hyde Park neighborhood of St. Louis, activating two residential spaces of Gates'. Soon after, Rebuild entered a partnership with Beyond Housing to establish a programming hub from one of their neighborhood spaces in the north St. Louis community of Pagedale. Also in 2011, Rebuild began a partnership with the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha to activate a derelict bank building with renovation, arts programming, and the incubation of a local small business.

Rebuild hosted the 2012 Bruner Loeb Forum "The Art of Placemaking" conference and will break ground on the Dorchester Artist Housing Collaborative in 2013 with the Chicago Housing Authority, transforming an empty housing project into a 36-unit complex with mixed income housing and a community arts center for programming, performance, and arts exhibition.

Rebuild Foundation has received funding support from ArtPlace, Creative Capital Foundation, JB and MK Pritzker Foundation, Kanter Family Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Surdna Foundation, Leveraging Investments in Creativity, W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation, University of Chicago, and others."
chicago  art  artists  theastergates  rebuildfoundation  revitalization  community  participatory  neighborhoods  activism  collaboration  omaha  stlouis  place  placemaking 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Quality of Place + Quality of Opportunity = ArtPlace « Art Works
"The old approach to economic development was to send the team out to bag the buffalo and drag it back home. It was all about relocation. But that game has just about played itself out. Do enough of it and there are no buffaloes left to bag—or they are all headed to Vietnam.

What we know now is that economic development emerges from local assets. From the conditions that develop, attract and retain talent. From conditions that encourage creativity and connections. From conditions that encourage diversity of people and ideas and the mash-up of those ideas.

That’s what creative placemaking is really about…putting your local assets to work fully…"
carolcoletta  artplace  place  local  art  glvo  grants  funding  economics  nationalendowmentforthearts  economicdevelopment  development  lcproject  placemaking  arts  community  from delicious
october 2011 by robertogreco
A Commitment to the Arts That Will Transform Communities « Art Works
"Artists and cultural institutions have a unique ability to kick-start local economies, create jobs, and attract new businesses. We now know that more inclusive communities—urban and rural, places that welcome a diversity of ideas and people—grow faster than cities that do not. We now know that places with thriving arts communities and facilities grow faster than those that don’t have promising cultural assets. Art is not a luxury; art is a precondition to success in a world increasingly driven by creativity and innovation."
nea  nationalendowmentforthearts  artplace  fordfoundation  2011  funding  grants  glvo  local  place  economicdevelopment  economics  community  creativity  luisubiñas  culture  lcproject  innovation  placemaking  from delicious
october 2011 by robertogreco
ArtPlace
"ArtPlace is a collaboration of top national foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts and various federal agencies to accelerate creative placemaking across the U.S.…

ArtPlace believes that art, culture and creativity expressed powerfully through place can create vibrant communities, thus increasing the desire and the economic opportunity for people to thrive in place. It is all about the local.

ArtPlace periodically awards grants to organizations doing groundbreaking work in creative placemaking."
art  nea  nationalendowmentforthearts  funding  grants  lcproject  place  placemaking  local  livability  arts  economics  glvo  community  artplace  from delicious
october 2011 by robertogreco
Local Projects: Change by Us
"This project is an evolution of Local Projects’ successful Give A Minute (giveaminute.info) initiative, already underway in Chicago and Memphis. Change by Us aims to invite ideas for civic solutions, intelligently form project groups, and effectively connect groups with resources to bring their ideas to life. Change By Us functions as "a social network for civic activity." Using both text messaging and the site itself, New Yorkers can submit ideas for a more sustainable city. Based on those ideas, the site then connects visitors, and invites them into project groups. Project groups can then easily form connections to existing city resources and community organizations that can help them achieve their goal. Change By Us launches in limited beta form on April 21, 2011—the eve of Earth Day—with the question, “Hey NYC, How can we make our city a greener, better place to live?”"
change  crowdsourcing  placemaking  social  socialnetworking  ceosforcities  local  nyc  grassroots  activism  community  civics  civicengagement  chicago  memphis  changebyus  localprojects  sustainability  urban  urbanism  cities  urbanplanning  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco

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