Designing the Post-Political City and the Insurgent Polis’: A Recorded Presentation by Erik Swyngedouw

From [polis} a  dissertation on alternatives to top-down design with the limited purpose of serving vested financial and political influences for the benefit of its population – this is particularly relevant to our situation here in Cape Town with the current emphasis on Central Improvement Districts, IRT systems which serve more affluent suburbs rather than the urban poor stuck in ghettos on the periphery and Soccer World Cup stadiums that are now white elephants and a financial noose around the cities neck while the profits accrue in the hands of vested international interests – is there a way to resist this is the focus of a recorded presentation by Eric Swyngedouw on “Designing the Post-Political City and the Insurgent Polis.” Swyngedouw is a professor of geography at the University of Manchester School of Environment and Development.
 

Swyngedouw points to a climate of global consensus that has become pervasive over the past twenty years, effectively suppressing dissent and excluding most people from governance. He explains this consensus as limited to a select group (e.g., elite politicians, business leaders, NGOs, experts from a variety of fields) and perpetuated through “empty signifiers” like the sustainable/creative/world-class city. He argues that this consensus serves a “post-political” neoliberal order in which governments fail to address citizens’ most basic needs in order to subsidize the financial sector and take on grandiose projects designed to attract global capital. He adds that the flipside of management through limited consensus is rebellion on the part of the excluded, which he views as insurgent architecture and planning that claims a place in the order of things. Swyngedouw calls for open institutional channels for enacting dissent, fostering a democratic politics based on equal opportunity for all in shaping the decisions that affect our lives. He envisions the city as “insurgent polis” — a new agora where democratic politics can take place, where anyone can make a case for changing the existing framework

Listen to the presentation and read more on [polis]

An infusion of commons thinking can transform how we plan the future

As we strive to engage with publics that are to use the facilities we design we often hear the frustration with this process from design professionals and authorities who are often accused of doing this in a routine fashion or that we hear eh same few people engages and we bear the brunt of minority lobbying groups or worse we are beset by cranks – how to make this necessary and esentail process more productive ? BY DAVID M. MOTZENBECKER, on LAND Reader:

“It began with a simple enough thought: “There aren’t nearly enough people here.”

David M. Motzenbecker; President, City Planning Commission at City of Minneapolis

On a fall afternoon in 2007, I was attending a public meeting held by the Minneapolis Planning Department to garner citizens’ input on their latest revision to the City’s Comprehensive Plan – The Minneapolis Plan for Sustainable Growth. As President of the City Planning Commission, my charge is to stewardthe vision for the growth of the city as outlined in its comprehensive plan. One definition of stewardship is “a person using every talent and repeatedly sacrificing desires to do the right thing.” Wasteful actions or not doing everything possible to achieve a positive outcome is contradictory to notion of stewardship. It was the sensation of just going through the motions at this particular meeting, not really embracing the democratic notion of people shaping their own city, that struck me as wasteful. The attendance, comments, and results of meetings like this one led me to the conclusion that the planning commission wasn’t stewarding anything but the opinions of city staff and our own points of view. ”

Read the original articleon LAND Reader:

Mp3 Experiment Cape Town – READY FOR JOY AND CHAOS

AS part of Design Indaba 2011 Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere, welcomes you to  to the biggest and coolest public prank Cape Town has ever seen: The MP3 Experiment.

“Looking forward to Improv Everywhere’s first-ever official prank in Africa? We can’t wait to see you at the park near Camps Bay beach on Sunday 20 February at 3pm where together we will enact the Mp3 Experiment.

With days to go we want to encourage you to summon all your friends to be there, and to RSVP on Facebook. The Mp3 Experiment is sure to be one of the coolest and most memorable things you have ever done in the city.”

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