Abstracts from Past Issues of Projections

Remaking Crisis Cities, Projections Volume 1, Spring 2000

John Friedmann

The Prospect of Cities
In Fall 1999, John Friedmann, Professor emeritus at UCLA and Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne, visited MIT for five weeks to present material from his upcoming book The Prospect of Cities. Projections asked Professor Friedmann to reflect on the challenges that cities face as they enter the new millennium.
Harvey Gantt
Happy Accidents: Reflections on Leadership and City Success

In Spring 1999 Harvey Gantt, a leading architect, planner, and politician, spoke at the keynote address of MIT's Crisis Cities symposium series. Gantt discussed the importance of leadership in the planning and design professions, and the necessity for political engagement in order to achieve the often complex public goals that planners work on. He also reflected on the role of serendipity both in his personal journey toward public leadership and in his home city of Charlotte's success in recent decades.

Andy Waxman
Why Improve Neighborhoods? Shifting the Goals of Inner City Commercial Revitalization
As planners, we are taught to improve places. But should that be our ultimate goal? This article argues that the ultimate goal of planning is to improve people's lives, and that planning professionals need to broaden their conception of planning in order to find the best way of achieving this goal. To illustrate this point, this article explores a specific community economic development strategy- the revitalization of inner city commercial districts- and argues for a reconceptualization of this strategy's goals. Although as currently practiced this strategy is clearly place-based in nature, I argue that, in order to achieve the goal of improving people's lives and alleviating poverty, neighborhood commercial revitalization must integrate both people- and place-based approaches. Furthermore, I argue for an expansion of place-based approaches as they are currently practiced, especially those working to improve neighborhood shopping areas. Rather than solely focusing inwardly on the place they seek to improve, these strategies need to view these areas within a citywide or even within a regional context.
Brent D. Ryan
Philadelphia's Center City District and the Privatization of the Public Sphere
The downtowns of American cities are increasingly being secured, cleaned, and planned by private enterprises known as Business Improvement Districts (BIDs). In Philadelphia, the Center City District (CCD), one of the largest BIDs, has taken a leading role in the revitalization of downtown. In the ten years of the CCD's existence, perceptions of Center City's attractiveness have improved, retail and occupancy rates have increased, and, most importantly, the BID's stakeholders- property and business owners, government, and the public- are satisfied. Having established its credibility, the CCD has recently merged with its parent organization and is beginning to engage in a wider range of activities, like the export of BID services and the advocacy of large-scale replanning outside the CCD boundaries. Multiple factors seem to account for the CCD's near-unanimous support. Improvements have been visible and have benefited all of Center City's major interest groups. Equity concerns have mostly been avoided, despite an overt focus on attracting suburbanites, not city residents, to downtown. A national economic upturn that is boosting Center City markets has also accompanied CCD efforts. The CCD is now well established as a major policymaker in downtown Philadelphia, and given its positive momentum, its expansion seems likely to continue in the near future. This expansion, however, is likely to be dependent on sustained widespread support and a healthy enough economic climate to avoid major deterioration of the downtown.

Cleveland: Four Perspectives on America's "Comeback City"/b>Proceedings from the Cleveland Crisis Cities Symposium, April 6, 1999

Featuring:
Ned Hill, Cleveland State University
Chris Warren, City of Cleveland Department of Economic Development
Richard Shatten, Case Western Reserve University
Norm Krumholz, Cleveland State University
Cleveland, Ohio, is an industrial city of about 500,000 that became a national symbol of urban decline in the 1970's. Since then Cleveland has remade both its damaged image and its physical fabric through an ambitious public-private partnership that has returned the city to the headlines as America's "Comeback City" Projects like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Jacobs Field have set a new standard for urban revitalization. In Spring 1999, as part of the Crisis Cities symposium, MIT invited four of the key players in Cleveland's renewal story to discuss how the renewal process came about, where it has succeeded or fallen short, and to project the prospects for the future revitalization of Cleveland.
Domenic Vitiello
En marcha por el notre: Identity and Direction in a Rustbelt Ghetto
In the ghettos of the North American Rustbelt, the once-fertile crescent of industrial cities and towns in the Northeast and Midwest, people confront challenges of community development in part by projecting ideas about identity in the built environment. Negotiating group identity is an important part of redefining the image, ecology, and socioeconomic orientation of communities scarred by deindustrialization, disinvestment, and discrimination. This is particularly important for recent immigrants, for whom the old, decaying industrial landscapes of Rustbelt ghettos hold ambiguous meanings. In the formerly industrial neighborhood of North Philadelphia first-, second-, and third-generation Latino immigrants, mostly from Puerto Rico, produce distinct images in architecture, gardens, murals, and graffiti that form and engage in ongoing debates about cultural directions and the future of the place. These images are powerful tools for remaking a city that has long been in crisis. This paper focuses on the activities of Latino (primarily Puerto Rican) Ecommunity development corporations and artists in North Philadelphia.
Anjali Mitter Duva
An Unlikely Partnership: Solving a Water Crisis in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire’s Pearl of the Lagoons
As in many developing country cities, the urban poor in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire often have insufficient access to affordable, clean water. The country’s private water utility is unable to install piped water connections in certain neighborhoods and the poor rely on individual, informal vendors who sell water illegally at high prices. To bridge a service gap and reduce the prevalence of an illegal activity that affects its revenues, the utility has taken an unprecedented step toward forging a partnership with water vendors. While this arrangement may present a "second best" approach to providing the urban poor with water, it must be significantly improved in order to be effective.

 

 

 

 

 

Making Places Through Information Technology, Projections Volume 2, 2001
William J. Mitchell
Foreward
Anthony Townsend
Introduction to Volume 2

Emy Tseng

Social and Economic Consequences of the New Internet Infrastructure
Many in the technology field claim that the Internet brings about the "end of geography." The Internet has created a world not bound by the geographical, social, or economic constraints of the physical world. However, the Internet is built on a physical entity - the telecommunications networks that connect computers around the world. Currently, the next generation of these networks is being built and designed. In order to participate on the Internet, one needs to connect to these networks. Therefore, design can determine the level of participation available to individual, organization and community. This article describes some of the emerging technologies that define the new Internet infrastructure, and how geographic, social and economic factors are guiding its design, deployment, and use.
James Spencer
Technology and Urban Poverty: Understanding the Barriers to Equality

Current research on the Digital Divide has begun to examine the implications of rapid technological changes on low-income urban communities, in the hopes of discovering opportunities for the urban poor to accumulate assets. This article examines two frameworks for understanding the Digital Divide, racial inequality and spatial mismatch, and places their findings in the larger context of the multiple barriers that the poor face in finding jobs, housing, education and other assets. It refocuses the debate on a definition of the underclass, and finds that the Digital Divide is merely another manifestation of the socio-spatial concentration of poverty in American inner cities. This article concludes with an argument for the integration of technology policy approaches with other efforts aimed at alleviating concentrated poverty.


Mandeep Grewal
Linked or Connected? Mass Media and Immigrant Indian Women in the United States
This research explores the association between employment, mass media and degree of adjustment among immigrant Indian women in the United States. Ten college-educated women in the Detroit metropolitan area who immigrated to the U.S. as wives during the past decade were interviewed. In-depth interviews were supplemented with a brief structured questionnaire. The findings indicate that both employment and media wealth have a strong positive association with degree of adjustment. Informal networks also have a significant impact on adjustment levels. Hence, employed and media-rich women with extensive local familial contacts are most likely to be adjusted. The results will be used to specify future research that can inform the design of mass media programs aimed at providing information to immigrant women to assist them in their adjustment process.
Malo Hutson
Workforce Development Institutions for Low-Skilled Adult Workers
This article analyzes the role that workforce development institutions play in the "new" information-based economy. It compares and contrasts the differences between a community college computer skills training course (Roxbury Community College) and a community-centered computer skills training program (Mandela Computer Learning Center) with regards to their institutional resources, clientele, and ties to local and regional employers. Based on these two case studies, interviews and participant observation, it concludes that Roxbury Community College (RCC) and Mandela Computer Learning Center (MCLC) serve two different purposes and populations.
Richard O'Bryant
Establishing Neighborhood Technology Centers in Low-Income Communities: A Crossroads for Social Science and Computer Information Technology
Neighborhood technology centers have emerged as a new tool for developing low-income communities. With the growth of computer information technology and the Internet, public debate has emerged over approaches for establishing technology and Internet access for low-income communities. The preferred strategy has been targeting communities for technology centers which are available to that community's residents. This article argues that establishing technology center access in low-income communities requires inclusion of a component that is sensitive to social issues specific to that community. With this consideration the presence of a technology center in a low-income community has the potential for spatial as well as environmental impact. Access to technology without consideration of social conditions of the community will fail or at most garner minimal results.
Randal Pinkett
Community Technology and Community Building: Sociocultural Constructionism and an Asset-Based Approach in a Low-Income Community
This article establishes the theory of sociocultural constructionism - a synthesis of the theories of social constructionism (Shaw, 1995) and cultural constructionism (Hooper, 1998), that is rooted in the theory of constructionism (Papert, 1993). Sociocultural constructionism, a theoretical framework that can inform efforts to engage populations traditionally underserved by technology, argues that individual and community development are reciprocally enhanced by independent and shared constructive activity that is resonant with both the social setting that encompasses a community of learners, as well as the cultural identity of the learners themselves. To explicate a methodology for operationalizing this approach, the literature on community building and practice of asset-based community development (Kretzmann & McKnight, 1993) are drawn upon. Sociocultural constructionism and an asset-based approach to community technology and community building involve participants as active change agents rather than passive beneficiaries or clients, and as the active producers of information and content, rather than passive consumers or recipients. Finally, this article describes research that is underway at Camfield Estates, a predominantly African-American, low-income housing development in Roxbury, Massachusetts, in collaboration with the MIT Media Laboratory and the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning, to investigate the effectiveness of this approach in achieving social and cultural resonance and bridging the digital divide.
Ginny Berkowitz, Susan Fleischmann, Natasha Friedus and Duke Guthrie
Central Square Conversations: A Civic Dialogue Project
Francisca Rojas
The Virtues of the Virtual: New Directions for Urban Design
As a future-oriented practice, urban design compels us to imagine, anticipate, design and plan our cities of tomorrow. Twentieth century urban planning has generated a number of influential visions of urban futures - from Howard, LeCorbusier, and Wright, to Fuller, Archigram, and Soleri. Yet for more than twenty years, urban planning has exhibited a conspicuous lack of critical projection about the future of urban life and form. This lack of futurist vision is remarkable considering the rapid advancements in information technology (IT) that have begun to reshape a wide range of interactions at the various scales of urban life. Of particular interest to urban planning and design is how IT transforms social and spatial relationships. This article explores the way that IT is expressing itself in the city, both physically and virtually, and proposes three principles inspired by cyberspace: connectivity, flexibility, and imageability - that urban design can adopt as guides towards facilitating the integration of our physical-urban and virtual-information selves.
Beatrice Witzgall and Joseph Kaye
Enhancing Conversation through Context Output
The great advantage - and disadvantage - of digital information is that it can be received anywhere. It is therefore devoid of context. When your lunch partner receives a mobile phone call, all that you know is that the call has occurred. There is a need to create context as output from the digital information; the physical domain of interaction displays the context. The caller to a mobile phone often asks "Where are you?" "Am I disturbing you?" These questions also express the need to create context or an idea of place. Fundamentally, what is displayed must reflect the context and not the content of the message: if your dining-mate is receiving a call from their significant other, that is sufficient to know and understand; the exact details are unnecessary. This article presents an approach to restoring context to digital interaction.
Luke Young
The Luminous Table: Increasing Interactivity in Urban Design

 

 

 

 

 

Planning for Environmental Justice, Projections, Volume 3, 2002

Gregg P. Macey, MIT

Goshen Learns Environmental Planning
In many respects, the environmental justice movement holds a mirror to the field of planning. A growing body of evidence suggests that land use controls and emerging statutory frameworks have contributed to the overburdening of low-income and minority districts with the hazards of industrial pollution. At the same time, the distributional effects of planning practice are seldom countered with attempts to adequately enforce industrial performance standards, set up emergency response capabilities, protect residents from the effects of pollution, or include residents in decision-making. This paper documents the efforts of Goshen, North Carolina, an agricultural community that has survived from Reconstruction to the present, to determine the impacts of a wastewater treatment facility on their community. Residents considered the status of heired property, sensitive landmarks, the permitting process, proposed facility design, and the social geography of Goshen through a series of efforts de-linked from the machinations of environmental planning procedures, which progressed in some respects under the assumption that the community did not exist. The manner in which environmental impact assessment, pollution control, and land suitability analysis failed to protect this historically significant community suggests several shortcomings of the planning systems that are assumed to protect human health and the environment. New tasks for planners interested in understanding, learning from, and preventing the distributional effects of planning practice are suggested.
Craig Anthony (Tony) Arnold, Chapman University School of Law
Land Use Justice

In a modified republication of the first comprehensive study of the relationship between environmental justice and land use regulation, Professor Tony Arnold contends that environmental injustice is due in large part to unjust patterns of land use generally, not just to siting of specific environmental hazards. The article contains the findings of an empirical study of zoning patterns in thirty-one census tracts in seven cities. The study shows that low-income, high-minority census tracts have a greater percentage of their area zoned for industrial and intensive commercial uses than do high-income, low-minority census tracts. The article also discusses the features and benefits of a "planning model" of environmental justice. The planning model focuses on empowering low-income communities of color to influence local land use plans, controls, and patterns. The planning model is an alternative or supplement to the traditional "oppositional model" of environmental justice that is inherently reactive and remedial.


Juliana Maantay
City University of New York, Lehman College, Department of Geology and Geography
Industrial Zoning Changes in New York City: A Case Study of "Expulsive" Zoning
Using New York City as a case study, this paper examines how zoning and the legal mechanism of zoning changes can contribute toward environmental injustice, and offers recommendations for achieving justice through planning. Noxious uses tend to concentrate in poor and minority industrial neighborhoods due to re-zoning more affluent and less minority industrial areas to other uses, and expanding industrial zones in poorer neighborhoods and communities of color. This set of practices has been termed "expulsive" zoning, and is characterized by displacement of poor and minority people (and industry) from gentrifying industrial zones, the intrusion of additional noxious land uses into predominantly poor and minority industrial areas, and the concomitant reduction of environmental quality there. Zoning policy, it will be argued, can have adverse impacts on public health and equity, by disproportionately burdening poorer and more minority populations with noxious or environmentally risky land uses.
Daniel R. Faber
Northeastern University Department of Sociology

Penn Loh
Alternatives for Community and Environment
 
James Jennings
Tufts University Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
Solving Environmental Injustices in Massachusetts: Forging Greater Community Participation in the Planning Process
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, ecologically hazardous sites and facilities, ranging from highly polluting power plants to toxic waste dumps, are disproportionately located in communities of color and working-class communities. In fact, 9 of the 15 most environmentally overburdened towns in Massachusetts are low-income communities (where median household income is less than $30,000). Likewise, 9 of the 15 most environmentally overburdened towns in the state are of "higher-minority" status (where 15% or more of the population are people of color). In fact, citizens residing in a community of color in Massachusetts are 19 times more likely to live in one of the 25 most environmentally overburdened communities in the state. Striking inequities in the distribution of these sites and facilities are placing lower-income families and people of color at substantially greater risk of exposure to environmental health hazards. In response to these disparities, a vibrant environmental justice movement has emerged in Massachusetts. Aimed at organizing and mobilizing community residents to "act and speak for themselves," these environmental justice organizations are playing a pivotal role in organizing and mobilizing residents to be active participants in the planning and regulatory process. This article will highlight key lessons for planners around making community participation an effective tool for equity struggles, focusing on the role of Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE) in the Boston neighborhood of Roxbury.
Jaap Vos
Florida Atlantic University Department of Urban and Regional Planning
Segregation, Restoration, and Gentrification on the North Fork: Can Participation Prevent Another Injustice?
This paper discusses the only remaining natural waterway in Broward County, Florida: the North Fork of the New River. It shows how historic racial segregation had the unintended effect of preserving this natural resource in an African-American neighborhood and that today, because of this natural resource, the same neighborhood is under threat of gentrification. The paper shows that current federal regulations for the prevention of environmental injustice will not be able to prevent gentrification since these regulations only apply if there is a "siting event." The paper then argues that displacement of residents can be prevented if local government officials and residents work together to formulate a long-term vision for the area. Next, the paper outlines a successful public outreach program that was performed in the neighborhood during the winter of 2001-2002 and discusses some of the ideas that neighborhood residents brought forward during the program. Finally, the paper shows how these ideas are leading to actions by local government agencies and the formulation of a plan for the area.
Chitra Kumar
MIT
GIS Methods for Screening Potential Environmental Justice Areas in New England
Over the past decade scholars, scientists, and community advocates have argued that minority and low-income communities have been exposed to disproportionate amounts of hazardous pollution as a result of systematic biases in policy-making and discriminatory market forces. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is an important tool used to assist regulatory agencies in identifying these potentially vulnerable or "potential environmental justice" areas so that programmatic decision-making can incorporate EJ concerns. Yet few studies have documented or evaluated methodologies for EJ-GIS analyses utilized by public agencies. This paper explores various methodologies that approximate where communities at risk of disproportionate burden may be with respect to the unique character and composition of a region. Specific variables explored are race/ethnicity, poverty, and population density. For each variable a scale and threshold/reference value is determined; also, the possibility of establishing a ranking system is contemplated. The importance of investigating spatial clustering and integrating variables into combined criteria is also discussed. The United States Environmental Protection Agency-New England regional office was chosen as the host for this research because of its particular interest and mandate in overseeing integration of environmental justice concerns in policy/planning activities. Based on research results, recommendations were made to EPA-New England on how to improve their demographic mapping system.
David Rubin
Roosevelt University, School of Policy Studies
 
Natalie Davila
Roosevelt University, School of Policy Studies
 
Shuhab Khan
Idaho State University Department of Geosciences
 
Kelly Tzoumis
Roosevelt University, School of Policy Studies
Defining Environmental Justice Communities: EPA Region Five's Approach
This paper examines how the determination of a potential environmental justice community is made by EPA in compliance with Executive Order 12898. Data are used from the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permitting process in 2000 from EPA Region 5. The sample included all of the RCRA facilities (N=211) that were eligible for a new operating hazardous waste permit. First, we examined the minority ration (Vm) for each RCRA applicant to test the potential of EPA missing some environmental justice communities that did not reach the 2.0 qualifying criterion but were greater than 1.0. Second we propose a way that the distribution of Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) facilities could assist in evaluating these sites, which when combined with the Vm ratio might improve policy decision-making. Our conclusion highlight problems with the current system used by EPA, and offer some recommendations for the future.
Kris Kolodjiej, Chikako Sassa, and Sushila Maharjan, MIT
The Boston Industrial Archeology Mapping Project
In an ongoing pilot project initiated in September of 2001, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), in collaboration with the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has developed a methodology to superimpose historical and present-day industrial land use datalayers with demographic information and public health data to map areas of substantial environmental risk within the city of Boston, Massachusetts. Historic datalayers showing location and type of industries known to emit hazardous substances were interpreted from Sanborn Fire Insurance maps in the years 1888 and 1962. These historic industries, along with current-day industries listed under the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Tier 21 and Major Facility databases, were classified according to the Standard Industrial Classification Manual (SIC) published by the U.S. Department of Labor, and linked to tables of hazardous chemicals associated with each type of industry. Using a Geographic Information System (GIS) (ArcView), the historic datalayers were then overlaid with present-day census and public health data, and a customized "spatial filtering" function was developed to highlight "hot spot" areas of significant industrial activity and combined risk potential accumulated over time. The result is an "archeology" of risk. The intent is to produce a planning tool for strategic environmental health intervention to serve professionals in government and the private sector, such as public health professionals, legislators, city planners, and environmental designers.
Chikako Sassa, MIT
Filling the Metaphysical Landscape: Aesthetics of Environmental Planning in Val Verde, Los Angeles County
Currently a gap exists between the regulatory approach to managing a municipal landfill, and the unofficial narratives of the people who live near the landfill and face a multitude of unpleasant effects on their everyday lives. This fracture between "official" truth and empirical reality stems from divergent construals of landfills as enclosed compartments from the perspective of planners, and as dynamic, multidimensional, even threatening elements in the landscape from the perspective of local residents on the other. Understanding this fracture will provide cues for modifying current planning practice to become more responsive to and inclusive of local voice. Working from a case study of the Chiquita Canyon Landfill and the community of Val Verde in Valencia, California, this research investigates ways to mend this fracture. By examining cultural and symbolic artifacts indicative of the community's relationship to the landfill, this paper suggests how such qualitative knowledge could be linked to the practice of environmental planning. In addition to the standard practices of environmental impact assessment and cost-benefit analyses, I advocate for the incorporation of non-traditional, non-textual, and non-scientific information, such as drawings, site visits, and participant observation, into the environmental planning profession and thereby endorse a more humanistic approach to planning. An in-depth study of cultural artifacts of the people of Val Verde revealed that the residents have suffered from both physical and psychological distress caused by the landfill. Sustainable development concepts such as "sanitary landfills" designed to keep damage to a minimum were found to be retrospective, prescriptive, and ineffectual in mitigating the sense of loss experienced by local residents. Landfill stakeholders such as operators, various citizens groups, and the government must work toward a regenerative and preventive landscape, wherein the power to effect change rests among the children-the nascent members of a regenerative future.

Founder: Eryn Deeming
Editor-in-Chief: Gregg P. Macey
Managing Editor: Sarah Roszler
Design + Layout: Christine Cerqueira Gaspar
Copy Editor: Robert Irwin
Faculty Advisors:
Jennifer Davis, Eran Ben-Joseph,
Keith Hampton, Balakrishnan Rajagopal
Editorial Board:
Vicki Been
 School of Law, New York University
Robert Bullard
 Department of Sociology +
 Environmental Justice Resource Center
 Clark Atlanta University
Daniel Faber
 Department of Sociology, Northeastern University
Raul Lejano
 Department of Urban + Regional Planning
 University of California, Irvine
Bradford C. Mank
 College of Law, University of Cincinnati
Rachel A. Morello-Frosch
 Center for Environmental Studies, Brown University
Dara O'Rourke
 Department of Urban Studies + Planning
 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
David Pellow
 Ethnic Studies Department
 University of California, San Diego
Dorceta E. Taylor
 School of Natural Resources + Environment
 University of Michigan