betacity


freedom to remake ourselves
November 22, 2015, 5:03 pm
Filed under: betaCITY, Cities | Tags: , , , , , , ,

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A multivalent definition of cities: the manifestation of who we are, our relationships, our attitude toward nature, our quotidian habits, how we use technology, what we find beautiful.

There is freedom in changing our built environments to change ourselves.

the question of what kind of city we want cannot be divorced from the question of what kind of people we want to be, what kinds of social relations we seek, what relations to nature we cherish, what style of daily life we desire, what kinds of technologies we deem appropriate, what aesthetic values we hold. The right to the city is, therefore, far more than a right of individual access to the resources that the city embodies: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city more after our heart’s desire. It is, moreover, a collective rather than an individual right since changing the city inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power over the processes of urbanization. The freedom to make and remake ourselves and our cities is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.

David Harvey, The Right to the City

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the politics of the suburbs
August 12, 2012, 12:49 pm
Filed under: betaCITY, Cities, density, Energy, Suburbs | Tags: , ,

This description of the establishment and maturation of the American suburb follows an interesting narrative arc:  from consumption, to politicization, to passivity, to stability, to class and racial segregation.

We’ve all heard the story of increased consumption and the evacuation of our city’s cores.  We don’t read much, however, about how land rights activism and conservatism were the direct result of suburbanization.  Nor about the passivity of the new middle class once established in their exurban homes.

From Harvey’s essay, the Right to the City:

The suburbanization of the United States was not merely a matter of new infrastructures. As in Second Empire Paris, it entailed a radical transformation in lifestyles, bringing new products from housing to refrigerators and air conditioners, as well as two cars in the driveway and an enormous increase in the consumption of oil. It also altered the political landscape, as subsidized home-ownership for the middle classes changed the focus of community action towards the defence of property values and individualized identities, turning the suburban vote towards conservative republicanism. Debt-encumbered homeowners, it was argued, were less likely to go on strike. This project successfully absorbed the surplus and assured social stability, albeit at the cost of hollowing out the inner cities and generating urban unrest amongst those, chiefly African-Americans, who were denied access to the new prosperity.

The Right to the City, David Harvey