Nelson Mandela comes to Brixton. July 12 1996.
I cannot even begin to fully assess the influence of Nelson Mandela on my life. From first hearing his name as a teenager to fighting against apartheid through disinvestment campaigns as a student at Durham University in the 1970s; from my outrage at the killing of Steve Biko in September 1977 to my exultation at Madiba’s freedom from prison in February 1990; from my tears at his inauguration as President in May 1994 to my awe at his visit to Brixton, South London on July 12 1996 where, only feet away, I took this precious picture, Madiba has been a towering figure, a colossus in my life.
We are in a spatial moment. Around the world, there has never been a time when the role and possibilities of public spaces including our most commonly used space, the street, have been so prominent in the news and social media. New spaces are being created and used as sites for recreation, such as New York City’s High Line, once a disused elevated rail bed and now a highly used urban park running along the lower west side of Manhattan.
Listen to/read my ‘Academic Minute’ here
A reinvention and revival of sharing in our cities could enhance equity, rebuild community and dramatically cut resource use. With modern technologies the intersection of urban space and cyber-space provides an unsurpassed platform for a more inclusive and environmentally efficient sharing economy. Yet this opportunity is currently being overlooked. Cities have always been about shared space, interaction and the exchange of goods and services through marketplaces and money-lending, for example.
This blog post is the follow-up to one written by Tufts student Leah Lazer and I in January 2013, about research we are carrying out to explore available and possible policy and planning tools and techniques that cities can use to promote the sale of fresh, healthy food at corner stores in low-income and minority communities in order to increase food access and food security for local residents (Policy and planning tools for healthy corner stores). Below we present two case examples, one from Washington, DC and the other from Baltimore, MD showing different institutional arrangements.
Fish tacos, vegan cupcakes, gourmet pizzas, and barbeque ribs, all served from the confines of cramped, idling, and often garishly painted trucks. These food trucks are becoming increasingly common sights in many cities throughout the United States such as Boston, MA, Washington D.C., and Chicago, Ill. Within the past few years, urban dwellers have flocked to these new businesses on wheels to get their fix of food that is inventive, authentic, and often inexpensive. In cities like Portland, OR and Los Angeles, CA, however, mobile food vending is less of a recent phenomenon. In Los Angeles, the Latino/a immigrant population brought with it the street food traditions of many countries, in the form of lonchera taco trucks. And Portland’s relaxed permitting processes have meant that it has a storied history of mobile food vending.
I’m a Senior Scholar at The Center for Humans and Nature which is based in Chicago. Recently, they asked for my response to the question “How is nature critical to a 21st century urban ethic?” I replied that before I answer, I first need to ask the more fundamental question: “What is nature and how is it constructed by people in our increasingly different and diverse urban communities?” Read my full response here
This blog posting is a quick introduction to some research Tufts student Leah Lazer and I are carrying out. The project will focus on policy and planning tools and techniques that cities can use to promote the sale of fresh, healthy food at corner stores in low-income and minority communities in order to increase food access and food security for local residents. Based on a literature review, review of planning and policy reports, news articles and in-person interviews, we will examine which tools work best within city-specific contexts of budget constraints, density and zoning, pre-existing infrastructure, the characteristics of the target beneficiaries, and more.
2013 marks ten years since the publication of Just Sustainabilities: Development in an Unequal World, edited by myself, Bob Bullard and Bob Evans. In the book we broke new ground by embarking on a sustainability and sustainable development-based discourse, but one that focused explicitly on equity and justice – on the inextricable links between environmental quality and human equality.
We opened the book as follows: “In recent years it has become increasingly apparent that the issue of environmental quality is inextricably linked to that of human equality. Wherever in the world environmental despoilation and degradation is happening, it is almost always linked to questions of social justice, equity, rights and people’s quality of life in its widest sense.”