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The Just City Essays

26 Visions for Urban Equity, Inclusion and Opportunity

TheJustCityEssaysCover26 Visions for Urban Equity, Inclusion and Opportunity

See the full Table of Contents. The series is also published at NextCity.org.  All 26 essays are available here at TNOC.

The full eBook versions are available here: PDF, ePub (e.g., iBook, Nook), Mobi.

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Over the past decade, there have been conversations about the “livable city,” the “green city,” the “sustainable city” and, most recently, the “resilient city.” At the same time, today’s headlines—from Ferguson to Baltimore, Paris to Johannesburg—resound with the need for a frank conversation about the structures and processes that affect the quality of life and livelihoods of urban residents. Issues of equity, inclusion, race, participation, access and ownership remain unresolved in many communities around the world, even as we begin to address the challenges of affordability, climate change adaptation and resilience. The persistence of injustice in the world’s cities—dramatic inequality, unequal environmental burdens and risks, and uneven access to opportunity—demands a continued and reinvigorated search for ideas and solutions.

Our organizations, the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City at the City College of New York, The Nature of Cities, and Next City, have built our respective missions around creating and disseminating knowledge, reporting and analysis of the contemporary city. All three organizations offer platforms for thought leaders and grassroots activists who are working to identify both aspirational and practical strategies for building livable, sustainable, resilient and just cities. Our shared values brought us together to produce the first volume of Essays for the Just City, generously funded by the Ford Foundation. (Illustrations by Andrea Posada and design by Random Embassy.) Special thanks to Mary Rowe of the Municipal Art Society of New York.

The outreach to our invited 26 authors began with two straightforward questions: what would a just city look like, and what could be strategies to get there? We raised these questions to architects, mayors, artists, doctors, designers, scholars, philanthropists, ecologists, urban planners, and community activists. Their responses came to us from 22 cities across five continents and myriad vantages. Each offers a distinct perspective rooted in a particular place or practice. Each is meant as a provocation—a call to action. You will notice common threads as well as notes of dissonance. Just like any urban fabric, heterogeneity reigns.

Remember, this project began with questions, not answers. We hope this collection will inspire, and also be read as an invitation to imagine a city where urban justice may still be still unrealized, yet is urgently desired in the dreams of so many. The dialogue is only beginning, and much work remains to be done in cities across the world.

Toni L. Griffin, Ariella Cohen and David Maddox

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

The series is also published at NextCity.

Introduction, Toni L. Griffin, Ariella Cohen and David Maddox

Tearing down Invisible Walls

Defining the Just City Beyond Black and White, Toni L. Griffin
In It Together, Lesley Lokko
Cape Town Pride. Cape Town Shame, Carla Sutherland
Urban Spaces and the Mattering of Black Lives, Darnell Moore
Ceci n’est pas une pipe: Unpacking Injustice in Paris, François Mancebo

Reinvigorating Democracy

Right to the City for All: A Manifesto for Social Justice in an Urban Century, Lorena Zárate
How to Build a New Civic Infrastructure, Ben Hecht
Turning to the Flip Side, Maruxa Cardama
A Just City is Inconceivable Without a Just Society, Marcelo Lopes de Souza
Public Imagination, Citizenship and an Urgent Call for Justice, Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman

Designing for Agency

Karachi and the Paralysis of Imagination, Mahim Maher
Up from the Basement: The Artist and the Making of the Just City, Theaster Gates
Justice that Serves People, Not Institutions, Mirna D. Goransky
Resistance, Education and the Collective Will, Jack Travis

Inclusive Growth

The Case for All-In Cities, Angela Glover Blackwell
A Democratic Infrastructure for Johannesburg, Benjamin Bradlow
Creating Universal Goals for Universal Growth, Betsy Hodges
The Long Ride, Scot T. Spencer
Turning Migrant Workers into Citizens in Urbanizing China, Pengfei Xie

The Big Detox 

A City that is Blue, Green and Just All Over, Cecilia P. Herzog
An Antidote for the Unjust City: Planning to Stay, Mindy Thompson Fullilove
Justice from the Ground Up, Julie Bargmann

Elevating Planning and Design

Why Design Matters, Jason Schupbach
Claiming Participation in Urban Planning and Design as a Right, P.K. Das
Home Grown Justice in a Legacy City, Karen Freeman-Wilson

Epilogue: Cities in Imagination, David Maddox

Published by The Nature of Cities, The J. Max Bond Center at the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York, and Next City
© 2015 All rights are reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of The J. Max Bond Center, Next City and The Nature of Cities.

Essays for the Just City were produced with funding from the Ford Foundation.

Illustrations by Andrea Posada and design by Random Embassy.

 

2. Backwell.Glover
The Case for All In Cities
Angela Glover Blackwell,  New York

People of color are at the center of a demographic shift that will fundamentally change the global urban landscape. From the growing proportions of Latino, Asian, and African American residents in resurgent cities of the United States, to the diversifying capitals of Europe and the booming metropolises of Asia, Africa,...

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22.-Freeman-Wilson
Home-Grown Justice In a Legacy City
Karen Freeman-Wilson,  Gary

I am the mayor of a legacy city, a city that rose and fell on the fluctuations of an industrial marketplace.  Like Detroit, Cleveland, and dozens of other cities that have experienced continuous population and job loss since their peak, my hometown of Gary, Indiana, once provided the backbone of...

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6. Hecht
How To Build a New Civic Infrastructure
Ben Hecht,  Washington

In the United States of America cities have long been gateways to opportunity. For centuries, people from all over the country and the world, including my own grandparents, came to our cities chasing the promise of a better life. America’s bargain with its citizens, rich and poor was, in many...

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12. Bargman
Justice from the Ground Up
Julie Bargmann,  Charlottesville

Soil contamination is a baseline condition for most of the sites I’ve worked on over the past two decades. The toxic imprint derives from industry—steel production, shipbuilding, fabrication of automobile and machine parts, to name just a few—in both urban and rural settings. But it also comes from lead-containing gasoline...

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9. cruz-forman
Public Imagination, Citizenship and an Urgent Call for Justice
Teddy Cruz,  San Diego Fonna Forman,  San Diego

1. A just city repositions inequality The conversation about justice and the city must begin with directly confronting social and economic inequality and prioritizing them as the main issue around which institutions must be reorganized. Contemporary architectural and urban practices must engage this political project head-on. We must question the...

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4. Travis
Resistance, Education and the Collective Will of the Just City
Jack Travis,  New York City

What has happened is that in the last 20 years, America has changed from a producer to a consumer. And all consumers know that when the producer names the tune, the consumer has got to dance. That’s the way it is. We used to be a producer—very inflexible at that,...

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14. Spencer
The Long Ride
Scot Spencer,  Baltimore

If you have never been to Baltimore, you should come to visit. From Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, you can ride the light rail to downtown in 25 minutes for one of the best deals in the country. If you ride the train between Boston and Washington, you can...

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5.Gates
Up From the Basement: The Artist and the Making of the Just City
Theaster Gates,  Chicago

Governance, despite its own hopes for a universality of exclusion, is for the inducted, for those who know how to articulate interests disinterestedly, those who vote and know why they vote (not because someone is black or female but because he or she is smart), who have opinions and want...

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18. Moore
Urban Spaces and the Mattering of Black Lives 
Darnell Moore,  New York

It was close to midnight. A youngish, jovial-looking white woman with russet colored hair ran by me with ostensive ease. She donned earphones and dark, body-fitting jogging attire. I was walking home from the A train stop and along Lewis Avenue, which is a moderately busy thoroughfare that runs through...

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24. Schupbach
Why Design Matters
Jason Schupbach,  Washington

My vision for a just city is one where design and its power as a tool against inequality is leveraged for the benefit of all residents. As the director of design programs at the National Endowment for Arts, and one of the U.S. government’s primary advocates for good design, I...

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19. Griffin_RE
Defining the Just City Beyond Black and White
Toni Griffin,  New York City

When I think about the just city, it’s always black and white I was born in Chicago the evening before President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. Growing up on the south side of Chicago meant that on an average day, I rarely saw or...

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13.Thompson-Fullilove
An Antidote for the Unjust City: Planning to Stay
Mindy Thompson Fullilove,  New York City

In 1993 or thereabouts I entered a contest for women to depict what they did on a particular day. That day, I went to meetings early in the morning at Harlem Hospital. I took photos of the abandoned buildings on West 136th, where I parked my car, and photos of...

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1.-Hodges
Creating Universal Goals for Universal Growth
Betsy Hodges,  Minneapolis

There is a difference between equality and equity. Equality says that everybody can participate in our success and equity says we need to make sure that everybody actually does participate in our success and in our growth. A just city is a city free from both inequity and inequality. We...

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10. Goransky
Justice that Serves People, Not Institutions
Mirna Goransky,  Buenos Aires

The purpose of this essay is to share some considerations about the meaning of “just City” from the perspective of a lawyer dedicated to the reform of justice administration and, in particular, to the design of systems that promote, encourage and facilitate the approach of justice for the people. This...

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15. Bradlow
A Democratic Infrastructure for Johannesburg
Ben Bradlow,  Boston

There are two main legacies that define urban inequality in South Africa: housing and transport. Apartheid was not only a racial ideology. It was also a spatial planning ideology. Johannesburg’s development into a wealthy, white core of business and residential activity, with peripheral black dormitory townships, was a result of...

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21. Sutherland
Cape Town Pride. Cape Town Shame
Carla Sutherland,  Cape Town

I have lived in an array of fascinating cities, and visited a host of others. I have loved many (New York, Hong Kong, Harare and Berlin); been miserable in a few (London and Pretoria); oddly disappointed by some (San Francisco, Dublin and Sydney) overwhelmed by others (Shanghai and Cairo); and...

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11. Herzog
A City That Is Blue, Green and Just All Over
Cecilia Herzog,  Rio de Janeiro

Since humans settled about 10,000 years ago, we have significantly altered and explored the landscape to create the civilization we now have. The landscape has been a source of material and non-material resources, feeding us in all senses. Ecologically rich landscapes associated with technologies were essential for all societies to...

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26. Maddox
Cities in Imagination
David Maddox,  New York City

Resilience is the word of the decade, as sustainability was in previous decades. No doubt, our view of the kind and quality of cities we as societies want to build will continue to evolve and inspire new descriptive goals. Surely we have not lost our desire for sustainable cities, with...

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17. Mancebo
Ceci n’est pas une pipe: Unpacking Injustice in Paris
Francois Mancebo,  Paris

“We all know the sound of two hands clapping. But what is the sound of one hand clapping?” says a famous Zen Koan. At first consideration, it seems impossible to conjecture about the “just city” without having already in mind what is an “unjust city,” and vice versa. But my opinion is that this...

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8. Cardama
Turning to the Flip Side
Maruxa Cardama,  Brussels

On the flipside you can do anything (…) the flipside bring a second wind to change your world. Encrypted recipes to reconfigure easily the mess we made on world, side B —Song ‘Flipside’, written by Nitin Sawhney and S. Duncan My brainstorming for this essay started thinking about the comprehensive list...

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25.deSousa
A Just City is Inconceivable without a Just Society
Marcelo Lopes de Souza,  Rio de Janeiro

Once upon a time the city was called the “marvelous” one: Rio de Janeiro, cidade maravilhosa. Rio was the birthplace of samba, chorinho and bossa nova; internationally famous for supposedly being a city of fun and carnival 365 days a year, it has been the capital city of Brazilian proverbial...

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3. Maher
Karachi and the Paralysis of Imagination
Mahim Maher,  Karachi

You want to read about a vision of a just Karachi? The contract killer ($50 a hit) ripping up the road behind Disco Bakery on his Honda 200CC and the secret service colonel cracking skulls in a Clifton safehouse will both cite one vision: Dubai. This happens to also be the...

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7. Zarate
Right to the City for All: A Manifesto for Social Justice in an Urban Century
Lorena Zárate,  Mexico City

[The Right to the City is] the right to change ourselves, by changing the city. —David Harvey, 2008  The cities we have The cities we have in the world today are far from being places of justice. Whether in the South, the North, the West or the East, the cities...

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23. Das
Claiming Participation in Urban Planning and Design as a Right
PK Das,  Mumbai

I believe that Urban Planning & Design (UP&D) should be considered a ‘Right’ and brought to public dialogue. The democratization of UP&D would be a significant step towards the achievement of just and equal cities. Exercising this right would be an effective means for bringing about much-needed socio-environmental change. The...

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16. Xie
Turning Migrant Workers into Citizens in Urbanizing China 
Xie Pengfei,  Beijing

One of the root causes of inequity is urban and rural differentiation China is experiencing a massive migration to the cities, mostly due to the availability of jobs and better facilities. But the way the government administers citizenship also creates inequity and poverty. Since the founding of the People’s Republic...

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20. lokko
 In It Together
Lesley Lokko,  Johannesburg

“[A city where] everything comes together . . . subjectivity and objectivity, the abstract and the concrete, the real and the imagined, the knowable and the unimaginable, the repetitive and the differential, structure and agency, mind and body, consciousness and the unconscious, the disciplined and the trans-disciplinary, everyday life and...

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