Punking the common urban narrative

(upcoming) November 2020
Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Annual Meeting, Toronto ON (virtual).

Planning participates in a kind of storytelling that “is not simply persuasive. It is also constitutive” (Throgmorton 2003). The capacity of planning to persuade and to constitute through stories, depends upon the socio-political structures that privilege the stories it has to tell and the futures it envisions. The stories planning tells work to shape both material outcomes but also ways of being, ways of knowing, and ways of evaluating. In order to radically rethink planning praxis, we need  to consider and value stories not only as accounts of past events. We must critically position stories as reflections of the present, and evaluate the power they reproduce into the future. When we understand planning documents and planning processes as social narratives, we must also consider how they participate in the dominant narratives of that society, who they benefit, and who they continue to burden and exclude even in the stories that tell us otherwise. For Sandercock (2003), not only does planning learn from stories, “planning is performed through story.” In this paper, I invert the statement to also call attention to which stories are performed through planning. I adapt performative narrative analysis (Reissman, 1993) to the analysis of three case stories of marginalized and alternative group placemaking events in Ottawa, Canada.

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Not My City: songwriting as research text

8 July 2020 (conference postponed to 2021)
KISMIF: Keep It Simple Make It Fast, Conference. Porto, Portugal.

in the dark on empty streets deserted parks and alleys […]

The future-oriented utopian cities of urban planning imaginaries sit in stark contrast to actual or existing cities. Behind policies for beautification and rejuvenation is the socio-political ugliness of capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism, and racism. In some of the most depressed and ugly parts of the city, we can find spaces of resistance based in camaraderie, mutual-aid, care, and joy. My doctoral research looks to marginalized and alternative urban groups for ways to reinterpret, resist, and refuse mainstream urban narratives and planning practices.

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Ask a punk: from informality to anti-formality and anti-authority and when to say fuck

10 February 2018

Presented at: Curating Resistance: Punk as Archival Method, Los Angeles CA

Sometimes you can’t design your research. Sometimes the city is what happens while you’re busy making plans. What are the linkages between tactical approaches to punk place-making and punk knowledge-making? As a doctoral candidate researching punk space in the city, specifically as it intersects with formal urban planning processes, I find striking analogies between my academic struggles and punk place-making. The qualitative-(re)turn in the social sciences has extended legitimacy to a variety of alternative research methods. In the process of formalization and institutionalization, in many instances the underlying conceptual and ethical arguments for the diversification of methodological approaches are buried if not entirely lost. Continue reading “Ask a punk: from informality to anti-formality and anti-authority and when to say fuck”

Messy Methodologies: Proposing radical alternatives to the formal research plan

Presented at: The Space of Struggle | A Mini-Conference on Radical Planning. Portland OR.

Abstract: The city as it is conceived and constructed through urban planning theory and practice is a reproduction of the values and forces which shape it, leaving it vulnerable and blind to other forces which risk burdening those who fall outside its definition. Due to the fundamental challenges of engaging with radical positions, perspectives, and experiences of the city, a consciousness of the limitations of conventional methodology and methods must be carefully considered; not only for logical but also ethical consistency with the subject. This paper examines the challenges of proposing an experimental—what I call “messy”—methodology informed by alternative approaches and radical theories which, by their nature resist rational organization, normative structures, and formal processes. Continue reading “Messy Methodologies: Proposing radical alternatives to the formal research plan”