shannon_mattern + social_justice   10

Just Spaces
Just Spaces is UCD’s effort to seize the imperative as a developer and operator of public spaces to engage in principled, frank analysis of our work and develop deliberate tactics to ensure that public spaces are deeply inclusive and just. In Philadelphia, hundreds of millions of dollars in public, private, and philanthropic investments are devoted to developing and renovating public spaces. As these spaces proliferate, the discourse about equity in public spaces ranges from lip service to sincerity, but we have lacked sufficient frameworks to evaluate or evolve in our approaches. The project, with the support of its advisory group, adopted a framework developed by Setha Low at the City University of New York Graduate Center that outlines five realms of justice in public space:

Distributive – Who has physical access (by walking, bike, transit, and private vehicle) to a public space or network of spaces?
Procedural – How do people feel about their influence over the design, operations, and programming of a public space?
Interactional – What makes people feel welcome or unwanted in a public space?
Representational – Do people feel their experience and history is represented in a space?
Care - How do people demonstrate their care for the space and each other?
participatory_design  participation  public_process  social_justice 
yesterday by shannon_mattern
RESOLVE
RESOLVE is an interdisciplinary design collective that combines architecture, engineering, technology and art to address social challenges.

Collaboration and co-production is a critical part of our ethos. For us, it is the first step towards realising more equitable visions of change and the ultimate attempt to bridge the gaps between a multitude of groups and communities, providing a platform for the production of new knowledge and ideas. An integral part of this is working with youth and under-represented groups in society and engaging them in the design process.

For us, ‘design’ encompasses both physical and systemic intervention. We look at innovative ways of working with communities as ‘stakeholders’ in the short and long-term management of projects. In this way, design carries more than aesthetic value; it is also a mechanism for socio-economic change.
design  design_pedagogy  blackness  social_justice  design_methods  public_design 
january 2019 by shannon_mattern
Data 4 Black Lives | About Us
Data for Black Lives is a group of activists, organizers, and mathematicians committed to the mission of using data science to create concrete and measurable change in the lives of Black people.

Since the advent of computing, big data and algorithms have penetrated virtually every aspect of our social and economic lives. These new data systems have tremendous potential to empower communities of color. Tools like statistical modeling, data visualization, and crowd-sourcing, in the right hands, are powerful instruments for fighting bias, building progressive movements, and promoting civic engagement.

But history tells a different story, one in which data is too often wielded as an instrument of oppression, reinforcing inequality and perpetuating injustice. Redlining was a data-driven enterprise that resulted in the systematic exclusion of Black communities from key financial services. More recent trends like predictive policing, risk-based sentencing, and predatory lending are troubling variations on the same theme. Today, discrimination is a high-tech enterprise.
Data for Black Lives seeks to mobilize scientists around racial justice issues. At our conference in November, we will convene over two hundred data scientists, computer programmers, racial justice activists, and elected officials to discuss the role that data can and should play in Black communities.
data  race  algorithms  social_justice 
november 2017 by shannon_mattern
Educause 2016: Libraries and future of higher education | Feral Librarian
As fewer people “go to the library” there has been a growing genre of literature I’ll call the “how to save libraries” genre.

Trends like declining circulation of print books and, in some cases, declining foot traffic in physical library buildings, has led to all kinds of strategies for “saving libraries”.

For academic libraries, that has usually been about turning libraries into information commons, always with coffee shops inside; and/or pumping up the role of librarians in teaching study skills, info-seeking skills and otherwise tying the work of the library folks into student success.

These are all good things, and make for good talks and articles, but my talk today will not be part of that genre. This will not be a “save the libraries” talk.

(this talk by David Lankes, where he references a great talk by Char Booth ,is a much more nuanced take on this than my soundbite intro here)

Let me go ahead and give away the punch line now: I don’t think we need to save libraries, but I do think we might need libraries to save us....

This is where libraries come in.

Libraries and librarians can and do play a crucial role in creating a more open, connected, and equitable future for higher education (and for our communities) through our support and facilitation of open access to scholarship and through our role in providing inclusive spaces that facilitate community building and formal and informal learning.

Let me talk first about openness....

This is one of the key themes in the preliminary report on the future of libraries just released by MIT on Monday:

For the MIT Libraries, the better world we seek is one in which there is abundant, equitable, meaningful access to knowledge and to the products of the full life cycle of research.

And lo and behold, it is libraries and librarians who are implementing open access policies in our research organizations and who are doing the heavy lifting to make journal articles (and some other forms of scholarship, like data and in some cases books and textbooks) openly available in meaningful, organized ways through institutional repositories and through educating authors on their rights and options.

Right now we are doing that in a hybrid environment, where much of the literature libraries provide to our communities is still not openly available; we provide it to “authorized users” only based on the contracts we sign with publishers – many of whom are for-profit entities who dabble in open access publishing, but who at the end of the day are still driven by a profit motive not an educational or social good motive.

Having research locked away behind corporate paywalls and/or behind our institutional authentication systems means that access to information is not only not free; but is fragmented and cumbersome.

The current landscape of scholarly literature consists of multiple silos of information, accessed through library websites, journal sites, aggregators sites, google and google scholar, social media sites, you name it....

Libraries are special places on campus and the Libraries and their staff occupy an essential role in the intellectual and social life of our college and university communities, perhaps especially for students.

The Libraries are a place of research and learning, and library staff are subject-matter and methodological experts who are committed to supporting student success.

One important characteristic of library staff that distinguishes them from faculty is the lack of any authoritative or evaluative role over students. This makes the Libraries places where students might be especially free and comfortable asking questions, seeking help, experimenting with nascent ideas and thoughts, and making mistakes.

Combine that with the fact that Libraries are places where intellectual freedom and privacy are deeply valued and fiercely protected, and it is quite possible that libraries will be the places our students and other community members might feel the most comfortable talking about difficult topics. Perhaps we could start to bridge some of the racial and other divides on our own campuses in and through the libraries; through formal and informal learning and dialogue in our spaces and through exposing students to an inclusive range of credible sources of information and knowledge and research.
libraries  social_justice  open_access  discourse  public_sphere 
october 2016 by shannon_mattern
Quantifying the Livable City - CityLab
"There's two camps in terms of how people are looking at this data-city connection," he explains. "One is, 'We have so much data, let's just correlate it all, analyze it all, and see what interesting patterns we find and respond to them.' And others are saying, 'No, let's think of the important, interesting questions and then find the data we need and then begin to address those questions.'"

Kontokosta says both ways have merit, but it's clear which way he leans. "I think so much is really formulated on ... the nature of the questions you're asking."

While his education is a mix of urban planning (doctorate), real estate finance (master's degree) and civil engineering (bachelor's degree), Kontokosta says the core of his work is "thinking about issues of social equity and social justice, and what's the social impact of some of the things we're trying to accomplish. That's been a useful perspective that most people coming up in the engineering fields or the sciences don't really have a chance to explore."

The leaders of CUSP hope the center will be truly interdisciplinary—that social scientists will come to them with a question, they will obtain the relevant data, and the two groups of experts can interpret it together. So far, its students bring with them a range of backgrounds, mainly in computer science, engineering, environmental studies, and the social sciences.

"I think my view is certainly not the view of some of the larger technology companies, for instance, who are very focused on the physical, and what data can do on physical infrastructure," Kontokosta continues. "My focus is much more on understanding how the data influences behavior, and using the type of information that's now available to really democratize the planning process much more."
big_data  urban_design  urban_science  smart_cities  methodology  social_justice  epistemology 
february 2016 by shannon_mattern
“Vanguards” | e-flux
In a 1967 report published in Eye: Magazine of the Yale Arts Association, Charles Moore, chairman of the department of architecture at Yale University’s School of Art and Architecture (A&A), spoke to a “marked shift” then taking place.

Students and faculty have now become involved to an unprecedented extent, in real problems in all their complexity with a concern for social issues and more concern for its form and less concern for the shape of objects in it. To an increasing extent, design solutions are expected to come at least partly from interaction with the user rather than from the imposition of an architect’s formal preconceptions. With the development of these concerns comes of course an interest in new tools which are likely to make design more responsive to the complex needs of the world around us.1

Moore identified two new streams of architectural research and teaching within the school related to this shift: on the one hand, the rising fascination with the computer and techniques it facilitated and, on the other hand, a series of initiatives directed towards poverty in America, projects then focused on Appalachia, New Haven, and Harlem. This nexus of computerization and “a concern for social issues” was then informing vanguard practices within architecture, giving rise to research—along with objects, systems, and spaces—affiliated, knowingly or otherwise, with the complex and multifaceted regulatory apparatus emerging to govern the built environment and populations within it.

While frequently situated as a radical or avant-garde departure from traditional formal and aesthetic concerns in architecture, the late-sixties engagement with information technologies and computerization as well as the rise of the “user” as an object of social scientific knowledge—all under the rubric of “responsiveness”—can also be read as symptomatic of the discipline’s functionalist response to a period of rapid technological transformation and of tumultuous social change, for which it was indeed seeking new tools....

Soon after, when outlining the School’s activities for 1968–69, Dean Howard Sayre Weaver stressed that “relevance” was to be understood not only in social terms but also in technological ones. In this respect too Yale sought to operate at the forefront of contemporary transformations, incorporating classes on “experimental architecture,” film, and video into the curriculum and hosting an early World Game seminar run by R. Buckminster Fuller and faculty member Herbert Matter....

The challenge is not merely to adopt technology nor to inject modern gadgetry into art or practice. It is nothing less than to comprehend the changing nature of experience itself.5

This commitment to investigating the impact of a “technetronic” society on architecture and the arts translated, in the first instance, into hosting an important early conference on computerization in architecture in April 1968, “Computer Graphics and Architecture,” hence returning us to the other pole of Moore’s “marked shift.”...

The experiment was sponsored by Bemis Company, Inc., which donated burlap, and Union Carbide Corporation, which donated the polyurethane foam and reportedly watched the experiment “with a great deal of interest.” The students were, in effect, interpolated as a research and development arm for the corporation, testing the viability of Union Carbide’s product for application in an imagined market for complex house forms....

What Moore called “real problems in all their complexity” or “the complex needs of the world around us” remind us, moreover, of the discipline’s proximity to such historical forces and the sometimes ambiguous nature of its professional and ethical directive to respond. Whether we take experiments with computer-driven technologies, social-scientific tools for addressing questions of poverty and discontent, or new materials thought to harbor the potential to respond to new or flexible forms of life, each finds complex footholds in, and utility for, a broader matrix of power then fueling, and fueled by, the so-called military-industrial-academic complex and the multinational corporations who served to benefit from such innovation.
media_architecture  pedagogy  social_justice  user_testing  design_process  public_process  civic_engagement  political_economy 
august 2015 by shannon_mattern
Constructive Maps | Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York
n 1893 when they were produced the Hull-House maps were the first of their kind in the United States. They made visible the complex overlaps of activity, ethnicity, race, income distribution, public and private space, and legal and illegal occupations in this immigrant district, rendering a three dimensional image of a space previously understood only as a “ghetto” or slum. Importantly, Hull-House residents lived within the neighborhood they surveyed and served.

Agnes Holbrook, in charge of the creation of the Hull-House maps, understood their importance in creating a “Kodak view [of a] shifting scene” of the district. Immigrants moved in and out of the tenements and old frame buildings were literally rolled away to make room for new factories. Although such social surveys arose out of concerns surrounding industrialization of the American city – thought to be unruly, wild, and uncontrollable – for the residents of Hull-House they were primarily a tool for social activism, and what Jane Addams, a co-founder of the settlement and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, referred to as “constructive work,” what we may refer to today as “social work.” With the information articulated in the maps the settlement’s residents were able to argue for health and sanitation, factory and labor (Florence Kelley founded the National Consumers League), and charity and child welfare (Julia Lathrop became the first director of the U.S. Children’s Bureau) reform in the American city.
data_visualization  mapping  social_justice 
february 2014 by shannon_mattern
How Do People Feel About the Gramsci Monument?
“Another monument to his monumental ego,” Ken Johnson recently labelled Thomas Hirschhorn’s Gramsci Monument, a big wooden community center which looks like a set from Peter Pan, and occupies the Bronx’s Forest Housing Projects through September. Rather than a towering chrome figurehead, the monument is an intellectual playground, a drastic improvement to the quality of life at Forest, and an overwhelmingly loving event.
installation  theory  libraries  Hirschhorn  social_justice  relational_aesthetics 
august 2013 by shannon_mattern
Outside the Citadel, Social Practice Art Is Intended to Nurture - NYTimes.com
As the commercial art world in America rides a boom unlike any it has ever experienced, another kind of art world growing rapidly in its shadows is beginning to assert itself. And art institutions around the country are grappling with how to bring it within museum walls and make the case that it can be appreciated along with paintings, sculpture and other more tangible works.

Known primarily as social practice, its practitioners freely blur the lines among object making, performance, political activism, community organizing, environmentalism and investigative journalism, creating a deeply participatory art that often flourishes outside the gallery and museum system. And in so doing, they push an old question — “Why is it art?” — as close to the breaking point as contemporary art ever has...

Art of this kind has thrived for decades outside the United States, mostly in Europe and South America, but has recently caught fire with a new generation of American artists in what is partly a reaction to the art market’s distorting power, fueled by a concentration of international wealth. Many artists, however, say the motivation is much broader: to make a difference in the world that is more than aesthetic.

“The boundary lines about how art is being made are becoming much blurrier,” said Laura Raicovich, who was hired last year by Creative Time as its director of global initiatives and to run a Web site called Creative Time Reports.

The site’s recent pieces include a video by an Egyptian-Lebanese artist about Tahrir Square, the locus of the Egyptian uprising two years ago, and a short film about family debt in America made by a self-described “debt resistance” art collective with roots in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

“We’re not trying to do what journalism does,” Ms. Raicovich said. “But we think artists can supplement and complement it through a different lens. And what they’re doing is art.”...

Some in the art world feel that all institutions (and artists) should resist the urge completely. Maureen Mullarkey, a New York painter, wrote on her blog, Studio Matters, that such work only confirmed her belief “that art is increasingly not about art at all.” Instead, she argued, it is “fast becoming a variant of community organizing by soi-disant promoters of their own notions of the common good.”....

Pablo Helguera, who is organizing the experiment as the director of adult and academic programs in MoMA’s education department, said that departments like his, as opposed to curatorial ones, are often the doors through which social-practice artists enter the museum world.
art  social_justice  social_change  praxis 
march 2013 by shannon_mattern

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