Monthly Archives: September 2012

Spatial Justice – ds4si

A lot of the ideas presented in this reading are things that many of us probably think about or possibly deal with on a daily basis. This reading just goes ahead and names it using a fancy identifier, Spatial Justice. Initially, the idea of spatial justice was difficult for me to put my finger on because its a rather broad idea that encapsulates a multitude of scenarios, issues and conflicts.

The case study on Watts, California, an area of Los Angeles where public transportation was removed, cutting it off from outside areas of the city. This caused the area to become depressed. However, it’s interesting that despite these negative effects of Watts, California, the area has had some positive outcomes from this spatial injustice. “Many families have lived in the area for generations, and it is a place where people still know each other and hold community ties. there are many cultural and community organizations, a rich political, social, and cultural history, and a deep local capacity for vision, mobilization, and organizing.” I’m not justifying the closing of public transit in this area of Los Angeles, but it’s interesting that the limitations on this areas spatial freedom allowed the community to grow in different way, and it’s something to take into consideration when evaluating these types of scenarios.

Evictions: Art and Spacial Politics

This reading by Deutsche is about city “slum” clearings in New York. It uses the history of Union Square in order to show how New York would displace low income housing tenements in order to make a neighborhood “better”.

This week in my Dynamic Metropolis Lecture, my professor talked about the Imagined City. The main point of this philosophy is that a city is too vast for a single person to be able to know every part of it. So people then fill in the gaps by imaging it. This creates sections in the city, where the rich live, industrial spaces, shopping areas and so on. The one part of the city, stated in lecture, that is most “imagined” is the slum or low income housing sections.

This reading is a great example of how city officials try to “get rid” of this “problem”. Their mentality is that the majority of the city goers don’t want to be  around slum areas, they want to be in the “safe” section. So they kick these tenements out, and try to build restaurants, better housing, and an all around more desirable place to be. HOWEVER, this only causes more problems for the city and homelessness. Take Union Square today, after all that trouble of kicking those people out, renovating, and opening more stores and restaurants, there are still many homeless people who call union square home.

My frist question is how is this reading applied to other places in the city, and what was the outcome after “they renovated” that space?

And do you think these slum clearing projects are ethical? DO you think they work? What is the solution to these development spaces?


Deutsch’s Evictions Art and Spatial Politics

Reading Response:

“If a tree falls in the middle of the forest…and no one is there to hear it…does it make a noise?”

In the same sense…space is not space without people there to occupy it. Most of the time great public spaces are well designed because they have designed an interaction, or a system of engagement, whether it was intentional or not. There were probably a multitude of unexpected interactions with the fountain at Washington Square, for example. In the winter, when the fountain is empty, there are spontaneous soccer matches and the fountain even doubles as round stadium seating for informal performances. In the summer, when the fountain is on, people come to swim, dip their feet in, etc. The square has been treated, more or less, with a high level of spatial equality, allowing the people to define the space as they wish. Washington Square is an example of a public space whose sense of “place” was created by the people. Like many distinctive public areas that have been treated with spatial justice, the space speaks for itself through its diversity of people, and the interactions that inevitably occur because of this. The space grows from this freedom.

However, if demonstrations of “spatial power” dominated the area, Washington Square would be an empty soulless park just for show.

Is the redevelopment of Union Square simply a microcosm of what has happened all over Manhattan? Manhattan seems to be the heart of New York City, where everyone comes to BE and BECOME, to THRIVE and EXPRESS, and to ACCESS and CONNECT, all definition of “spatial justice.” However, the whole island has been gentrified… can we still say that is a place of spatial justice?

Re-development of Union Square was a result of false aesthetics and references to an imaginary past.

An area is “ripe for gentrification” when property values are driven down by people who seek to benefit from its re-development. Oftentimes neighborhoods will be driven down into deterioration and devalorization through “invisible hands.” But these invisible hands are actually developers who seek to reap profit from the widening rent gap that would result after gentrification. Developers use these neighborhoods as playgrounds for their games with money. They like to pretend like they are the good guys who have come to “revitalize” the neighborhood, when in fact they are the ones who brought it down.

“The economic function of the neighborhood has exceeded the larger social function”

Marx said “capitalism attempts to ensure its own survival.” He uses it as a statement about the over accumulation of capital and how it ends up flowing into building projects because it is seeking to switch its capital investment into other sectors of economy…or rather, it has no where else to pour its excess. As a result, the investment in the built environment, because of the large-scale projects, requires involvement from bureaucratic institutions that may develop their own private interests in neighborhood gentrification. In the end, the institution is unavoidable, and capitalism is always about the unending flow of resources, goods, and most of all, money. Capitalism has designed a way of thinking that penetrates not only what we buy, but the way we buy. And it not only affects the way we use goods, but the way we use people. The neighborhood has become a commodity, whose profit is there to exploit and reap the greatest benefit for a very limited amount of people.

Is it possible to have development without gentrification? Of course it is, but the problem is that the people in control ARE the middle class, who are the ones who benefit most from gentrification. This is what happens with control. It reminds me of Plato’s republic. Plato, at the top, is the upper middle class, who seeks to control the lower class with his ability to manipulate their way of thinking, in the same way that developers claim they are “revitalizing” a neighborhood.

Can you have rapid development without displacement? To avoid displacement, how organic does the process of development have to be? Can you have development without an outside force… can the people do it on their own?

Art Gangs

Art Gangs


Uploaded by  on Jun 30, 2011

Artist, activist and historian Alan W. Moore discusses his latest book “Art Gangs: Protest and Counterculture in New York City” which traces the historical narrative of oppositional art groups and communities during the second half of the twentieth century. This is the first in a multipart program covering the lecture delivered by Moore at the Bluestockings Bookstore May 30, 2011.




Standard YouTube License


For September 12
1. Excerpts from Tod and Wheeler’s Utopia, pp. Intro 7, Plato’s Republic 21-25, Diggers 45-48, Owens & Fourier 81-91, Oneida 96-99

Questions to Consider (you can use these questions to get you started on a response to the readings if they are helpful) Respond by replying to this post:

  1. How are the Digger, New Harmony, Shaker & Oneida communities related to our conversation about Thomas More’s Utopia? How are they similar or different from his Utopia?
  2. What parts of these communities are still part of our culture today? What parts do you feel could not exist in our culture and why?
  3. As a designer, what can you learn from these communities about your own creative practice or the way that you operate in the world?
  4. Tod and Wheeler write that Hobbes took a pessimistic view on human nature. He felt that society needed the authority of a ruler to deal with conflict that will arise from naturally competitive human nature. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  5. The Wisconsin Fourier community voted to sell off their holdings and live on as wealthy individuals rather than a wealthy community. Ironically, Fourier wanted to create a community that satisfied individual desire. Do you feel it is possible to do both? How do you think groups / collectives / communities can accommodate individual freedom / satisfaction and still work for common good?

AJ’s Response:

Hello everyone i hope that everyone has a had a great week so far 🙂

First ill start of by answering the question that melanie had posted..
Tod and Wheeler write that Hobbes took a pessimistic view on human nature. He felt that society needed the authority of a ruler to deal with conflict that will arise from naturally competitive human nature. Do you agree? Why or why not?

– I agree because i feel in some instances depending on what culture or society that you are from – there needs to be a ruler in order to deal with conflict that will arise from human nature. My reason being is because when we look at society today in a way we are all a bunch of crazy people (not all of us…:)!) But if you really think about it this could go crazy if there was no laws to abide by people would go about there lives the way they wanted too – which could possibly be cool! But on the other hand With a ruler, we could have a more stable and fair way of living if you would say that everyone is equal.

This section also is where melanie had brought up the question in the reading section of the blog. Hobes believed that the time soon was coming of christ and that before that would happen they needed a ruler, so that everyone could accept christ in there hearts and that everyone would just go to heaven. Because of the statement in the reading stating to accept christ in ones heart is to see cooperation and mutual help as natural.

what did you guys think of hobes section in diggers as to the different roles Diggers, Rich, and Poor?

This was a really interesting read on how authoritative power was no done by a ruler, but more so as a group in a way that only put out certain laws to abide by so that all could be equal so that there in no way be corruption or chaos amongst the community! How life can be sustainable if we follow these certain guidelines and to make everyone feel more equal about things and how life could be less chaotic if we just follow them. Another interesting read from the section was about how the women and men from certain age groups were selected as mating partners to breed in other words the finest. which i thought was a bit sad, because i am sure the some of the people who were selected to mate with each other did not like each other and for that was forced to create an offspring maybe he/she did not want with that partner. What do you guys think of that?

*I love how it stated in the section as well as to how authoritative/leadership/ruler came about as to the ways of life as to how it states in the reading that. “Just as sick person needed a doctor, and for those who needed to be healed needed healers” . We all need help so when we need it we seek those who can help us in a way like a doctor (healer). It is in there power to know & Decide if there can be help given or not given.


This community was consisted of about almost 300 people that had its own communities and administrative leaders or groups. All members within this community were to work from the readings seemed even if they didnt want to they were required to work. People of the community would have a rotation throughout the different job skills/duties. As women were mainly just to do such work as domestic work. this was all in the between 1824 -1870. In there Utopia they were most famous for breaking down monogamous marriage.