studying the city (Annette Koh)

Public space, the right to the city, and civic engagement. How can we improve equity and access through participatory urbanism? Ph.D. student in Urban & Regional Planning at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Former resident of Seoul & San Francisco.
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More National Library Week thoughts! I’m having fun taking a little time each day to ponder the role of libraries in my life. As the only child of a librarian, I willingly spent part of my summer vacations at my mom’s workplace, the university’s Art & Architecture department’s slide library. I will confess that I have no facility for doodles, got a C+ in the one graphic design class I took, and can only critique art on the basis of whether I’d hang it up in my living room or not. But I think spending summers alphabetizing slides of the most referenced art and architecture (child labor law violations, yes we know) must have had some lasting imprint on me and my layman’s love of planes and portals, lines and lintels.
Louis Kahn's architectural spaces are secular cathedrals of the 20th century — full of light and reverence and geometric calm. (Frankly speaking, I'm no fan of the Hadid and Gehry style of swooping curves.)
there-is-no-there-there:

Louis Kahn by Andreas Levers

More National Library Week thoughts! I’m having fun taking a little time each day to ponder the role of libraries in my life. As the only child of a librarian, I willingly spent part of my summer vacations at my mom’s workplace, the university’s Art & Architecture department’s slide library. I will confess that I have no facility for doodles, got a C+ in the one graphic design class I took, and can only critique art on the basis of whether I’d hang it up in my living room or not. But I think spending summers alphabetizing slides of the most referenced art and architecture (child labor law violations, yes we know) must have had some lasting imprint on me and my layman’s love of planes and portals, lines and lintels.

Louis Kahn's architectural spaces are secular cathedrals of the 20th century — full of light and reverence and geometric calm. (Frankly speaking, I'm no fan of the Hadid and Gehry style of swooping curves.)

there-is-no-there-there:

Louis Kahn by Andreas Levers

(via rchtctrstdntblg)

Incomplete Streets: Processes, Practices and Possibilities edited by Stephen Zavestoski and Julian Agyeman.

Inclusive Citizenship: Meanings and Expressions edited by Naila Kabeer (part of the series “Claiming Citizenship - Rights, Participation and Accountability”)

Excited for the forthcoming Incomplete Streets book from Julian Agyeman, one of the urban planning scholars who has been most consistently asking “for whom” when we get too focused on the shiny, sustainable, and urban-designed "what."

When important social and symbolic narratives are missing from the discourse and practice of Complete Streets, what actually results are incomplete streets. The volume questions whether the ways in which complete streets narratives, policies, plans and efforts are envisioned and implemented might be systematically reproducing many of the urban spatial and social inequalities and injustices that have characterized cities for the last century or more. From critiques of a “mobility bias” rooted in the neoliberal foundations of the Complete Streets concept, to concerns about resulting environmental gentrification, the chapters in Incomplete Streets variously call for planning processes that give voice to the historically marginalized and, more broadly, that approach streets as dynamic, fluid and public social places.

As I was copy-pasting the book description, it occurred to me that part of the issue is how anemic our understanding of citizenship has become. The customer service model of municipal governance takes efficiency as its gold standard. But what if we are looking for justice, with efficiency as only one of many secondary goals?  I just cracked open Neila Kabeer’s book on “inclusive citizenship,” which takes a border-jumping look at what citizenship means when viewed from the standpoint of the excluded.

In honor of National Library Week, here’s my current stack of library books borrowed from the University of Hawaii at Manoa library, give or take five books buried amongst other papers. I have nothing on some of my classmates who have over a hundred books checked out.

Which reminds me, public service announcement time. Don’t be a shy doofus like me and feel bad about recalling books from the university library system. Some people have been hoarding them for years. YEARS.

todaysdocument:

It’s National Library Week!
Remember being this excited to check out a book? (Maybe you still are.)

From “The Day the Books Went Blank”, a 1961 educational film intended to show the importance of maintaining quality libraries, from The Library Extension Agencies of the six New England States.


The theme of this year’s National Library Week is “Lives Change.”  How has a library, or librarian, changed your life?

It’s really hard to overstate how much I like libraries. And that’s not just because I’m a child of a librarian. There’s a photo of me circa age 6 (? I was a tiny child, I could have been anywhere from age 4 to 8) perched on the circulation counter with a stack of books as tall as my torso.

todaysdocument:

It’s National Library Week!

Remember being this excited to check out a book? (Maybe you still are.)

From “The Day the Books Went Blank”, a 1961 educational film intended to show the importance of maintaining quality libraries, from The Library Extension Agencies of the six New England States.

The theme of this year’s National Library Week is “Lives Change.”  How has a library, or librarian, changed your life?

It’s really hard to overstate how much I like libraries. And that’s not just because I’m a child of a librarian. There’s a photo of me circa age 6 (? I was a tiny child, I could have been anywhere from age 4 to 8) perched on the circulation counter with a stack of books as tall as my torso.

A helpful investigation into the multiple meanings of civic crowdfunding from Rodrigo Davies. He took a grounded theory approach by way of discourse analysis — looking at the project pages of 274 campaigns collected from Citizinvestor, IOBY, Neighborly and Spacehive — and then developing the common framings and themes. He also finds some differences between how projects are presented and how the civic crowdfunding platforms themselves are framed. The short presentation (slides plus audio) is well worth a look.

Davies starts with three possible and popular framings about the importance of civic crowdfunding:

  1. Community Agency: that civic crowdfunding is based around collectives, brought together by geographic or interest-based ties, that pool economic and social capital to effect change.
  2. Individual Agency: that civic crowdfunding is driven by individuals seeking ownership of their environment for the purposes of entrepreneurial advancement, and reflects the increasing tendency of individuals to want to bear the responsibility and risk previously held by institutions.
  3. Institutional Decline: that civic crowdfunding is an outgrowth of financial strain among municipalities, and serves a libertarian agenda seeking the reduction of the role of government.

I especially appreciated his point about differential agencies. If investing in common goods (public/quasi-public goods) is exercising agency, then it is clear that different individuals and different neighborhoods will have significantly different levels of agency, depending on their disposable income. Given the recent Supreme Court ruling, this configuration of citizenship really did remind me of the majority opinion that money is speech. Civic crowdfunding is fun (see Robocop statue below) and can be a way to “kickstart” civic involvement and discussion about the importance of public goods. But we should be careful not to oversell its democratic capabilities. 

Another distinguishing feature of the post-1965 Asian immigration is the predominance of immigrants from South Korea, the Philippines, South Vietnam, and Cambodia, countries deeply affected by U.S. colonialism, war, and neocolonialism … The material legacy of the repressed history of U.S. imperialism in Asia is borne out in the ‘return’ of Asian immigrants to the imperial center. In this sense, these Asian Americans are determined by the history of U.S. involvements in Asia and the historical racialization of Asians in the United States. The post-1965 Asian immigrant displacement differs from that of the earlier migrations from China and Japan, for it embodies the displacement from Asian societies in the aftermath of war and colonialism to a United States with whose sense of national identity the immigrants are in contradiction precisely because of that history. Once here, the demand that Asian immigrants identify as U.S. national subjects simultaneously produces alienations and disidentifications out of which critical subjectivities emerge. These immigrants retain precisely the memories of imperialism that the U.S. nation seeks to forget.

Lisa Lowe, Immigrant Acts, Chapter 2 (via mrsonsai)

When I put “Lisa Lowe” into the tumblr search system, I kept getting pictures of white people: Someone should sort that out 

Lisa Lowe! Immigrant Acts was the first time I read theory and realized how useful theory can be in analysis. I barely remember the basic contours of the book (proof of my own patchy memory, not the strength of her argument) so had to look up the description at Duke Press

Lowe argues that a national memory haunts the conception of Asian American, persisting beyond the repeal of individual laws and sustained by U.S. wars in Asia, in which the Asian is seen as the perpetual immigrant, as the “foreigner-within.” In Immigrant Acts, she argues that rather than attesting to the absorption of cultural difference into the universality of the national political sphere, the Asian immigrant—at odds with the cultural, racial, and linguistic forms of the nation—displaces the temporality of assimilation. Distance from the American national culture constitutes Asian American culture as an alternative site that produces cultural forms materially and aesthetically in contradiction with the institutions of citizenship and national identity. Rather than a sign of a “failed” integration of Asians into the American cultural sphere, this critique preserves and opens up different possibilities for political practice and coalition across racial and national borders.

Re: Lisa Lowe not popping up in searches, while Tumblr is fine when looking to reblog the greatest hits of social theory (hello French philosophers), it’s kinda terrible as a repository of “mid-list” theory, especially when the text under question was published in 1997.

(via sunyuh)

hollyhocksandtulips:

Verner Panton design, 1960s

OMG this is like one of those carpeted cat towers but for people. 

(via mattjamesrogers)

Lonche is a film that tells a tale of two taco trucks, weaving together the narratives of J&S Catering, a traditional lunch truck that roams the strawberry fields of the central coast of California, and Takoz Mod Mex, a gourmet food truck serving the high-tech companies of Silicon Valley. As we follow along with both restaurants-on-wheels on their daily routes, we see the dedication and struggle that it takes to feed a hungry workforce in these two vastly different communities. This short documentary is much more than a story about tacos and burritos – it is an intimate look at family, labor, and sacrifice.

lonchefilm:

Lonche: A Tale of Two Taco Trucks screens on Sunday, April 4 at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco as part of the Food & Farm Film Festival.

critical-theory:

Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophers.

I was hoping for some gelatinous cubes.

Just reposting this because I was remembering how enjoyable Radiant City is. 

anniekoh:

“In some ways a suburban city can be understood as an intolerant city. A city that propagates a suburban model is a city that propagates pure private space as opposed to any notion of public space. And when you only advocate private space, you get to the point where people cannot tolerate one another.”
Marc Boutin, architect and professor, University of Calgary on the absence of public space and public encounter in a suburban world.

The directors of Radiant City, Gary Burns and Jim Brown take a wry, full-family mockumentary approach to the issue of suburban sprawl that interlaces the story of one family (kids commenting on the subdivision names “oh this one is named after the farmer who sold the land to the developer I think?”; dad directing the community musical staging of “Suburbia” which includes the lyric phrase “sensible zoning”) with actual urban planners and critics.

Given James Howard Kunstler is in the mix, sprawl comes out looking something like Beelzebub’s droppings or as he put it, the “greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world.” Average size of a North American suburban house went from 800 square feet in 1950 (about the footage of my childhood home) to 2266 square feet in 2000.

The film goes beyond Anti-Sprawl 101 to leave you with some very memorable images of what the built environment hath wrought. Full length version viewable at National Film Board Canada

Asker anniekoh Asks:
woohoo! verso books nerding out! I still haven't figured out my top five...
anniekoh anniekoh Said:

rootsandroutes:

50% off AND free shipping. I too had to resist buying the entire catalog. I got those capitalism-related books because I wanted to learn more about its history! So which books did you end up getting?? I might go for another round before April 14th…

I ended up getting Marshall Berman’s On the Town, Chin-tao Wu’s Privatising Culture, and Juan González and Joseph Torres' News for All the People. As much as I love planning and geography books, sometimes I gotta go back to my first loves - arts and journalism.

I’ve missed the HIFF screenings of this film but fingers crossed I’ll catch the next one.

kumuhina:

Imagine a world where a little boy can grow up to be the woman of his dreams, and a young girl can rise to become a leader among men. Welcome to Kumu Hina’s Hawai’i, where there’s a place in the middle for all.