Category Archives: Blog

Review: Economic Crisis and Democracy in Brazil – A Talk by Dilma Rousseff

A_presidente_Dilma_Rousseff_durante_cerimônia_contra_o_impeachment_em_31_de_março_de_2016Brazil is a nation of great political turmoil. From the dark years of the military dictatorship to continuous corruption and failed economic policies, Brazil is as famous for its political struggles as it is for caipirinhas. On Wednesday, April 12th, impeached President Dilma Rousseff gave a talk at The New School about economic crisis and democracy in Brazil.

Dilma Rousseff was the first female president of Brazil from 2011 until her impeachment in 2016. An economist, politician, and member of the Worker’s Party (PT), she won the democratic election with 54 million votes. But as any president of a nation, Dilma’s politics are highly contested and divide millions across Brazil. While she is popular for programs like Luz Para Todos (Light For All), which made electricity widely available, she is highly criticized for corruption, such as her involvement in the Petrobras scandal. Her alleged hiding of budgetary deficits to win re-election in 2014 and poor economic policies that contributed to severe recession led to her impeachment in 2016, putting “dracula” Michel Temer, as one person in the Audience called him, in the Presidential seat. Continue reading

Report on UDL Teach-In: Gentrification

With dramatic shifts like rent hikes, sprawling urban redevelopment, and tenant displacement occurring throughout the world’s cities, the Urban Democracy Lab’s Student Advisory Board hosted a teach-in at the Gallatin student lounge on March 21st pertaining to the topic of gentrification. In order to unpack the term that is so frequently discussed by both academics and urbanites all around the world, the Student Advisory Board hosted a panel featuring NYU Wagner Professor Jewell Jackson McCabe, Gallatin Professor and Urban Democracy Lab Associate Director Becky Amato, and Gallatin Junior Anamika Jain. Aree Worawongwasu of the Urban Democracy Lab Student Advisory Board moderated. Continue reading

Dadaab is a Place on Earth: Interview with Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi

Dadaab Is a Place on EarthAnooradha Iyer Siddiqi is a professor at Gallatin and is organizing and participating in the event, “Dadaab Is A Place on Earth: Architecture in the Twilight of the World’s Largest Refugee Camp,” on April 18th, 2017, 6:00-8:00 pm at 20 Cooper Square, 2nd floor. I sat down with her for a brief interview about the event and the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.

More information on the event can be found here: http://urbandemos.nyu.edu/event/dadaab-is-a-place-on-earth-architecture-in-the-twilight-of-the-worlds-largest-refugee-camp/

Can you tell me briefly about Dadaab and the history of the region?

In 1991, the UNHCR and the government of Kenya established a refugee camp near the village of Dadaab, Kenya, to accommodate a massive influx of refugees after the collapse of Siad Barre’s regime in Somalia. This settlement, established for 30,000 refugees, has since expanded into five settlements in a permanent humanitarian complex housing half a million refugees, asylum seekers, economic migrants, and aid workers. Dadaab is situated in a borderland between Somalia and Kenya and it is a part of Kenya that’s ethnically Somali. It’s a much less developed region than the rest of Kenya. Continue reading

Review of “Humanizing Data: Data, Humanities, and the City”

Photo by Julian Chambliss
Photo by Julian Chambliss

A variety of activists, community organizers, academics and data practitioners came together on Cooper Square this past weekend for a day-long symposium called “Humanizing Data: Data, Humanities, and the City.” Co-sponsored by the Urban Democracy Lab, NYU Gallatin, NYU Shanghai Center for Data Science and Analytics, Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, and the Institute for Public Knowledge, the April 8 event explored how urban humanities can be both enhanced and complicated by innovative data-centric, digitized projects. Continue reading

Is New York’s Future Sustainable? Measuring the Historical Impact of Growth, and Planning for More

An upcoming event sponsored by our friends at the Gotham Center for New York City History at The Graduate Center of CUNY:

Wednesday, April 19th, 6:30 – 8 PM
The Graduate Center, CUNY
Elebash Recital Hall (Ground Floor)
​ 
Ted Steinberg, distinguished professor at Case Western Reserve, talks about Gotham Unbound, his award-winning environmental history of greater New York, and the limits of “sustainable” planning. ​
Michael Sorkin, recipient of the 2013 National Design Award, and president of Terreform, a non-profit dedicated to just and sustainable urbanism, shares his recommendations for a greener Big Apple.
Nilda Mesa, director of urban sustainability and equity planning at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, reflects on her experiences as NYC’s first Director of Sustainability, and the political challenges ahead.
Janet Babin, Economic Development Reporter for WNYC, moderates.

Visit full event site here

Love Thy Neighbor? — Public Housing, The Tafelberg Saga, and the Future of Integration in Cape Town

District Six

Based on research conducted in Cape Town, South Africa throughout July and August 2016, under institutional support from NYU Africa House

Central to Jewish ethics is the age-old adage, “love thy neighbor.” Religious leader Hillel is said to have described this as “the whole of the Torah,” even calling the rest “commentary.” But in Sea Point—an affluent and densely-populated suburb of Cape Town, South Africa—the phrase took on new meaning last spring, when called upon during a land battle which unfolded between parents advocating for a Jewish day school and activists campaigning for public housing development. Since dubbed the Tafelberg Saga, the dispute has come to exemplify the necessity for innovative approaches to race, space, and distribution in Cape Town. Almost 3 decades post-apartheid, supposedly-integrative policy has done little for the city’s native African population—much of which still dwells in slums spotting the periphery of a bustling city bowl. Continue reading

Gray Space and Creeping Urban Apartheid

Picture1By 2030, 2 billion people will live in unrecognized conditions or “gray spaces.” This proliferation of slums and informal settlements are part of a growing trend across the world, but particularly in the Global South in cities like Rio de Janeiro, Jakarta, and even Israel-Palestine. Oren Yiftachel is a Geography and Urban Studies professor at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. His lecture at the Hagop Kevorkian Center at NYU on February 16th entitled “Gray Space and Creeping Urban Apartheid: Learning from Israel-Palestine” offers an intimate look at the premise of his new book, which analyzes the neocolonialism of modern unrecognized settlements in Israel-Palestine as well as how they mirror larger trends of displacement across the globe. Yiftachel’s call for a more flexible definition of citizenship is put into practice by Karen Lee Bar-Sinai, an Israeli architect who designs urban plans for the two-state solution. Her work provides an urban planner’s take on what these changes can look like. Continue reading

“Aquí estamos y no nos vamos”: Combatting Construction as Tenant Harassment

dianareyna
Diana Reyna speaking at Brooklyn borough hall

A large crowd gathered at Brooklyn Borough Hall on January 31st to relay their experiences and frustrations with tenant harassment to city officials. The event, organized by Stand for Tenant Safety (STS) and their coalition, saw an amalgamation of tenants, family members, tenants rights activists, and government workers. The voices of the aggrieved tenants took center stage as the event began with personal accounts of tenant harassment. The use of construction work as harassment has become increasingly prevalent in recent years as areas in Brooklyn gentrify and rental prices rise. Many of these tenants occupy rent stabilized units, which are protected by the government and stipulate that the rent may only rise by certain state sanctioned percentages and that landlords cannot evict a tenant without proper cause.  However, landlords in search of profits implement illegal practices to remove tenants by making their apartments unlivable through invasive construction. Continue reading

“Carboniferous”: Climate and Social Justice in NYC

5_Carboniferous_SolnitNMNYThe “Carboniferous”: Climate and Social Justice in NYC event––held in November 2016 by the Institute for Public Knowledge and co-sponsored by the Urban Democracy Lab––was an impassioned discussion of climate change, urban housing, and social justice. The question of the night, posited by the speakers, was how climate justice is an issue of social justice, the two inseparable in their complexities. Continue reading

Arts & Democracy Workshops: Cultural Organizing for Community Change

10On Saturday, November 12th, I went to an event sponsored by Arts & Democracy on Cultural Organizing for Community Change. I attended most of the day, and will share the experience of the three workshops I participated in. We all picked one workshop in each session after a brief pitch from facilitators, and every workshop used creative activities to help build a sense of community around NYC. Activists, artists, and community leaders of all sorts joined and expressed their passion and ideas for making the world a better place. Continue reading

The Sustainable Innovations Forum at COP22: Environmental Responsibility for Corporations and for Mass Urbanization

image00The Conference of the Parties (COP 22) was held in Marrakech, Morocco from November 7-18. The largest side event, the Sustainable Innovations Forum (SIF), offered an opportunity for business, NGOs, and government actors to come together to share and discuss our environmental future. Despite the unexpected disruption of election results from the U.S. and the possible threat of a U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the government negotiations and civilian discourse retained a level of resolve. Lord Nicholas Stern, an economist and professor at the London School of Economics, explained that this momentum is “the story of the future” and these delegates understand the grave reality and the need for alternative futures. Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment (UNEP) and Under-Secretary-General of the UN, also echoed this attraction to imagining new possibilities. He explained that climate issues are not a burden, but rather an opportunity for a multitude of stakeholders including capitalists. Solheim also reiterated a common feeling among participants, which is if the U.S. does not choose to be a leader in the fight for 2-degrees, the cap for global temperature increases set by the Paris Agreement, other international advocates will rise to the occasion. Continue reading