What our cities can ‘become' and who is allowed to 'belong' in them are fundamentally and inextricably interlinked. Therefore, we must act on issues related to both belonging and becoming, together — or face deepening spatial and social inequities and inequalities.
Julian Agyeman is a Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at TuftsUniversity. He is the originator of the increasingly influential concept of 'just sustainabilities', the intentional integration of social justice and sustainability. Worldwide, he is recognized as an expert, an innovator and thought leader. The author or editor of 12 books, he centers his research on critical explorations of the complex and embedded relations between humans and the urban environment (whether mediated by governments or social movement organizations) and their effects on public policy and planning processes and outcomes, particularly in relation to justice and equity.
...about sharing hopeful narratives of equity and coexistence that can be enacted in cherished spaces and places
As a kid I was obsessed with nature, and my 'places' were natural (or semi-natural) places. The first times that I noticed place making as a result of intentional human agency were the small villages of East Yorkshire, where for thousands of years the human imprint could be seen and experienced.
I was born in Beverley, East Yorkshire in the UK. I used to go birdwatching at Spurn Point, a 3 mile sand spit where the Humber Estuary meets the North Sea
As an academic, I think my main contribution is through my books, especially IncompleteStreets which basically asks: Who gets to say what a Complete Street is?Streets are not simply physical spaces that represent a design challenge; they are social places. What mistakes might we be making in assuming that redesigning streets with the goal of providing safe access to all users can sufficiently address the broader historical, political, social, and economic forces shaping the socioeconomic and racial inequalities embedded in and reproduced by the spaces we call streets?
I would simply say that spaces and places are not neutral voids, to be filled with something more 'interesting' or 'authentic' but are sites of historical, political, social, and economic contestation. We need to understand this and reflect it in our planning. We need to ask: Are we placemaking or place-taking? Have we undertaken ethnographic surveys of how difference and diversity play out in the spaces and places we want to change? Do 'we', the placemakers look like the community?