Sep 2, 2014

Estonian geographies

Some pictures taken in Tallinn on August 2014

Jul 22, 2014
The creative life, in all its manifestations, is necessarily a social product. It grows with the aid of transitions and techniques maintained and transmitted by society at large, and neither the tradition nor product can remain the sole possession of scientist or the artist or the philosopher, still less of the privileged groups that, under capitalist conventions, so largely support them… The essential task of all sound economic activity is to produce a state in which creation will be a common fact in all experience.
Mumford, L. (1934). Technics and civilization. Harcourt, Brace and Company
Jul 21, 2014
As [Boris] Groys has swung his gaze from East to West some of his critical values have also changed sides. His praise for Western museums is one such reversal; another has to do with the world outside museum walls. Various left-affiliated twentieth-century art movements, from Surrealists to Situationists, sought a mutually transformative encounter between art and daily –especially urban- life. That dream is now dead, thanks to the petrification of contemporary urban life by “the tourist’s medusa gaze.” “Cities originally came about as projects for the future”; therefore “a genuine city is not only utopian, it is also antitourist.” Tourism imposes “homogeneity bereft of universality.” Cities become identical in spite of their cherished differences; their sameness consists in having equally abandoned the universal project of utopia to which they once gave so many local habitations and names. Thus the tourist-citizen finds wherever he goes “the indifferent, utterly privatized like of postcomunism.” (Groys might have pointed out that in medieval Europe a city of free citizens, without lords or serfs, was precisely commune.) (p. 159)

Kunkel, B. (2014). Utopia Or Bust: A Guide to the Present Crisis. Verso Books

Jul 14, 2014

I spent some time in Porto

Jul 4, 2014
Daily life in late twentieth-century capitalism is a terrain of struggle, whose rich outpourings of cultural inventiveness marks the intensity of unresolved contradictions. The development of hardcore as a subculture is one way that teens express the contradictions of a system that degrades them as workers and flaunts them as consumers. The problematic of hardcore is the problem of capitalism. (p.381)

Willis, S. (1993) ‘Hardcore: subculture American style’, Critical Inquiry, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 365–384.

Jun 17, 2014
From “trailer trash” to “the one percent,” the language of class tends to evoke divisions both stark and simplistic. It’s easy to discern the outward differences between a single mother living in squalor and a socialite in her Park Avenue penthouse. But the lived experience of class takes place on far more fractured terrain. The way we understand our own class—and determine the class of others—is as much about yesterday’s legacy as today’s money, as much about perception as reality
Guernica Magazine special issue. “Class in America: The Fault Lines”

From “trailer trash” to “the one percent,” the language of class tends to evoke divisions both stark and simplistic. It’s easy to discern the outward differences between a single mother living in squalor and a socialite in her Park Avenue penthouse. But the lived experience of class takes place on far more fractured terrain. The way we understand our own class—and determine the class of others—is as much about yesterday’s legacy as today’s money, as much about perception as reality

Guernica Magazine special issue. “Class in America: The Fault Lines

Jun 12, 2014
Jun 9, 2014
May 28, 2014
for the young generation, bringing the suburbs into their creative practice is also a way of embracing who they are. A good example is filmmaker Avdotja Alexandrova’s project Holodno: the brand only produces one garment, a sweater with the word Холодно on it (“cold” in Russian). In one of the photos, beautiful young people are standing on a balcony, with white high-rises behind them. It’s a way of proclaiming, yes, it’s cold in Russia, and, yes, we are Russian although we didn’t choose to be, and this is where belong. Not in a nationalist way, but to say that not only the poorest and the most hopeless come from the suburbs; we all do.
Source: ‘Russia’s suburbs lack charm … which may be why they’re creative hotspots' (The Guardian - Cities)

for the young generation, bringing the suburbs into their creative practice is also a way of embracing who they are. A good example is filmmaker Avdotja Alexandrova’s project Holodno: the brand only produces one garment, a sweater with the word Холодно on it (“cold” in Russian). In one of the photos, beautiful young people are standing on a balcony, with white high-rises behind them. It’s a way of proclaiming, yes, it’s cold in Russia, and, yes, we are Russian although we didn’t choose to be, and this is where belong. Not in a nationalist way, but to say that not only the poorest and the most hopeless come from the suburbs; we all do.

Source: ‘Russia’s suburbs lack charm … which may be why they’re creative hotspots' (The Guardian - Cities)

May 20, 2014
For every single gentrified neighborhood, 12 once-stable neighborhoods have slipped into concentrated disadvantage.
Source: ‘The Overwhelming Persistence of Neighborhood Poverty’ (via City Lab)

For every single gentrified neighborhood, 12 once-stable neighborhoods have slipped into concentrated disadvantage.

Source: ‘The Overwhelming Persistence of Neighborhood Poverty’ (via City Lab)

May 16, 2014

Braid - You’re Lucky to be Alive (2000)

"it’s a new dream
it’s constant it’s madly it’s everything to me
as the sun set on the set
on the set ready set go
go make a mess of the mystery
of your perfect love history”

May 15, 2014

Municipalities are more than just providers of services. They are democratic mechanisms through which territorially based communities of people govern themselves at a local level… those who would force municipalities to amalgamate with each other invariably claim that their motive is to make municipalities stronger. Such an approach –however well-intentioned- erodes the foundations of our liberal democracies because it undermines the notion that there can be forms of self-government that exist outside the institutions of central government.

Andrew Sacton. The Assault on Local Government, Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2000: 167

Apr 9, 2014

Joseph Stiglitz. April 8, 2014 (Medellín, CO). Development and inequality. An urban perspective

*Notes taken at Stiglitz’s talk yesterday at the World Urban Forum 7

· Environmental sustainability + economic and social sustainability
Dimensions: security, resilience.
Major debates of our society are held in cities.
Cities are in constant transformation responding to the changes in the economy and society.
Cities that don’t reinvent themselves fail. Government has a critical role to play.

· Role of the government
Sustainability, equity, environment are issues with market failures. We should not leave those important issues to the market.
In the last 20 years we have lost the balance between the market and governments.
One of the main duties of a government must be to promote development.

· We need to go beyond GDP
Rob Kennedy “GDP measures everything except what makes life worthy”.
Cities that only focus in GDP growth ultimately fail growing.
We need more than liveable cities.
What is important to people? Putting people first:
Employment
Decent work
Affordable housing
Attractive neighbourhoods
Civic engagement and a vibrant democracy
Culture and education
Provide opportunities to all
Security
Dignity
Economic inclusion (no economic -spatial- segregation)

· Cities & planning
Density —> positive externalities.
The necessity of planning: there is no substitute. You can’t have successful cities without planning.
Markets don’t do well I’m processes of (urban) restructuring neither improving inequality.
The lack of a good public transportation system means economic segregation, congestion, environmental hazards, etc.
Rising problems of environmental justice.

· Opportunities for cities
Density: interactions, creativity, new thinking…
Cities is where it’s happening (related to the Metropolitan Revolution).
The intertwining of economic, social and environmental sustainability.
Inequality leads to the lack of economic sustainability, instability, etc (even the IMF has incorporated this view).
There is no a trade-off between growth and equality.

·Inequalities
Income
Wealth (much greater)
Health —> life expectancy
Security
Opportunities
Political
Most Americans don’t know that the recession is over because most of the new gains have gone to the top 1%. United States are more unequal than ever, it has been moving in the wrong direction.
On the other hand, some Latin-American countries have reduced inequality.
Equality (inequality) is related to equality (inequality) of opportunities. Inequality today will lead to more inequality tomorrow.
If a significant part of our society is not doing well, we all suffer.

· Cities can address inequality better than national governments. A sense of community can solve inequality when it is close and visible. In any case is a long run agenda. There is no simple recipe but there are many policies that will make a difference: public transportation, jobs creation, good education for all (access to knowledge), affordable housing, economic -spatial- inclusion, spatial planning! (to void economic segregation), fresh food provision, social protection (security is necessary to permit the increase in productivity and creativity) —> PRECONDITIONS.
Beyond: individual sense of well being, economic and civic engagement, etc.

image

Feb 3, 2014
A “shotgun house" is a narrow rectangular domestic residence, usually no more than 12 feet (3.5 m) wide, with rooms arranged one behind the other and doors at each end of the house. It was the most popular style of house in the Southern United States from the end of the American Civil War (1861–65), through the 1920s. Alternate names include “shotgun shack”, “shotgun hut”, “shotgun cottage”, and in the case of a multihome dwelling, “shotgun apartment”. A railroad apartment is somewhat similar, but instead of each room opening onto the next room, it has a side hallway from which rooms are entered (by analogy to compartments in passenger rail cars).

A longstanding theory is that the style can be traced from Africa to Haitian influences on house design in New Orleans,[1] but the houses can be found as far away as Chicago, Illinois; Key West, Florida, Ybor City[1], and California. Though initially as popular with the middle class as with the poor, the shotgun house became a symbol of poverty in the mid-20th century. Opinion is now mixed: some houses are bulldozed due to urban renewal, while others are saved due to historic preservation and/or gentrification.
Several variations of shotgun houses allow for additional features and space, and many have been updated to the needs of later generations of owners. The oldest shotgun houses were built without indoor plumbing, and this was often added later, often on the back of the house (sometimes crudely). “Double-barrel” or “double” shotgun houses consist of two houses sharing a central wall, allowing more houses to be fitted into an area. “Camelback” shotgun houses include a second floor at the rear of the house. In some cases, the entire floor plan is changed during remodeling to create hallways.
(Source: Wikipedia)

A “shotgun house" is a narrow rectangular domestic residence, usually no more than 12 feet (3.5 m) wide, with rooms arranged one behind the other and doors at each end of the house. It was the most popular style of house in the Southern United States from the end of the American Civil War (1861–65), through the 1920s. Alternate names include “shotgun shack”, “shotgun hut”, “shotgun cottage”, and in the case of a multihome dwelling, “shotgun apartment”. A railroad apartment is somewhat similar, but instead of each room opening onto the next room, it has a side hallway from which rooms are entered (by analogy to compartments in passenger rail cars).

A longstanding theory is that the style can be traced from Africa to Haitian influences on house design in New Orleans,[1] but the houses can be found as far away as Chicago, Illinois; Key West, Florida, Ybor City[1], and California. Though initially as popular with the middle class as with the poor, the shotgun house became a symbol of poverty in the mid-20th century. Opinion is now mixed: some houses are bulldozed due to urban renewal, while others are saved due to historic preservation and/or gentrification.

Several variations of shotgun houses allow for additional features and space, and many have been updated to the needs of later generations of owners. The oldest shotgun houses were built without indoor plumbing, and this was often added later, often on the back of the house (sometimes crudely). “Double-barrel” or “double” shotgun houses consist of two houses sharing a central wall, allowing more houses to be fitted into an area. “Camelback” shotgun houses include a second floor at the rear of the house. In some cases, the entire floor plan is changed during remodeling to create hallways.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Jan 29, 2014
stop calling me resilient
“Resilience, the latest urban policy and think tank buzzword extolled upon the world’s urban dwellers, operates as an insidious alias to dispossession and territorial stigmatisation.”
Tom Slater. The resilience of neoliberal urbanism (28 January 2014, OpenDemocracy.net)

stop calling me resilient

Resilience, the latest urban policy and think tank buzzword extolled upon the world’s urban dwellers, operates as an insidious alias to dispossession and territorial stigmatisation.”

Tom Slater. The resilience of neoliberal urbanism (28 January 2014, OpenDemocracy.net)

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