Category Archives: Resources

Fearless Cities: A Dispatch from Barcelona

IMG_1171On the second weekend in June, hundreds of people flocked to Barcelona to discuss the idea of municipalism and radical democracy, broadly under the banner of “Fearless Cities.” This event also served to commemorate two years of progressive leadership throughout many of Spain’s city halls, including Madrid and Barcelona. Activists, mayors, city council members, academics, and NGO workers came together to explore such themes as “feminizing politics,” “sanctuary and refuge,” and “anti-corruption and transparency.” Despite these weighty ideas, the event was joyous and at times jubilant. During an opening conversation that served to welcome participants, Manuela Carmena and Ada Colau, the mayors of Madrid and Barcelona, spoke of friendship and intimacy even during our dark geopolitical moment. Indeed, despite this light tone, Trump was often in evidence. Continue reading

Squatting LES, by Georgina Hahn

NYU Gallatin student Georgina Hahn created the mapping project, “Squatting LES.” Georgina based the project on a follow-up interview with event participant Frank Morales, who is an activist and former squatter. View the full project here.

Bronx Times on “Narrating Our Neighborhood: The Melrose Oral History Project”

Check out the Bronx Times for a recent story about “Narrating Our Neighborhood: The Melrose Oral History Project,” a collaboration between the Urban Democracy Lab and the Women’s House and Economic Development Corporation:

“This partnership (between WHEDco and NYU’s Gallatin School) helped our students build strong connections with the community – who had a lot of material to share with us,” said Dr. Rebecca Amato . . . “With this project, the students instantly fell in love with the (Melrose) neighborhood – and the residents who have lived here for decades.” . . .

“You could feel and understand the presence of history here – and this was a great opportunity for the students to acknowledge the residents’ previously unknown and untold stories,” she added. “You can also feel the residents’ commitment to their neighborhood and to each other – they are very proud of where they come from.”

Read the full article here.

On “Black Palestinian Solidarity in an Age of Struggle”

blackpalestinesolidarityThis past weekend I watched J.Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only. It is a short 2016 documentary that consists of J.Cole rapping songs from his most recent album of the same name, spliced with footage from his travels through Greensboro, Alabama, Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Ferguson, Missouri. From the documentary two scenes stand out. The first is when J.Cole’s house is raided by a SWAT team because his neighbors suspected him to be a drug dealer. Ten heavily armed officers, with rifles and bulletproof vests, bang down his front door and shift his security cameras so their actions will remain unseen. The second scene shows J.Cole attempting to find Mike Brown’s memorial. He runs into Mike Brown’s older cousin, who chauffeurs him to the memorial. These two experiences highlight themes of racial discrimination and government militarization. More interesting that the documentary itself was considering J.Cole’s experiences and these themes alongside the February panel “When I See Them, I See Us: Black Palestinian Solidarity in an Age of Struggle,” part of NYU Gallatin’s Black History Month. 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

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

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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

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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

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

Organizing meeting for the People’s Climate Movement NY

From our friends at The People’s Climate Movement:

The People’s Climate Movement – the national coalition that came out of the organizing of the historic climate march two years ago – is calling for a massive mobilization in Washington, DC next April. This march will come at the end of a six month campaign which starts now!

While focusing on the urgent need for bold action on the climate crisis, this effort is grounded in our commitments to racial and economic justice. During the transition period between the election and the inauguration, and then during the first 100 days of the new presidency and new Congress, we will be calling for speedy government action…and we will be mobilizing people to bring the message directly to policy makers in Washington.
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