What are some audio resources on gentrification and new urbanism?
April 2, 2015 7:36 AM   Subscribe

I'm interesting in better understanding the roots of gentrification (on both a historical level and a systemic level) and what some of the ways that new urbanists, activists, community groups and city planners are working to make cities and small towns more equitable. I know its much more complex than "rich people move in and push the poor out."

Where are those being pushed out moving to? What kind of migrations are taking place in the past few decades and what is happening to the suburbs which are increasingly being left behind by the middle and upper classes in favor of a return to cities? How has zoning changed over the years? What are the effects of redlining and how are people working to reverse the damage already done?

I'm a comics author working on a book, so I am looking for podcasts, lectures, audiobooks or documentaries which I can listen to while I'm working. I've done a lot of searching already and have been able to find some resources, but I am hoping the AskMefi community can help me pick out some of the best places to start. I'm a beginner when it comes to this area of interest, but I'd love to be able to do some comics about this stuff in the future (my comics work is all non-fiction/journalism).

Also if you want to throw in book recommendations as well, I'd be happy to get them, but those are a bit easier to find on my own!
posted by minicloud to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn is the best book I've read on the early stages of gentrification in NYC, and it's on Audible, although frankly, I'd be suspicious about how well the author's dry, verbose writing style would work as audio.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:48 AM on April 2, 2015

Best answer: Congress for the New Urbanism podcast - I'm a big fan of them
Urbanism Speakeasy - I don't know them, but seems cool.
Strong Towns Podcast - I'm a member
Streetsblog Podcast - more of a transportation-oriented site
CityCast - a collaboration between CityLab (formerly The Atlantic Cities) and KPCC
posted by JimBJ9 at 7:55 AM on April 2, 2015 [5 favorites]

I'd be really interested in seeing those comics when you are done!

I know when I'm doing a creative project and looking for source material/ diverse references I go on to archive.org. Its great for finding a schmear of images, video, sound, posters, etc. that aren't floating around on a Pinterest (and are generally copyright free, for what it's worth).

For example: This and This

Not sure how much this helps, good luck!
posted by Rage-chel at 8:02 AM on April 2, 2015

I have (but have not yet read) There Goes the 'Hood: Views of Gentrification from the Ground Up.

""There Goes the 'Hood" analyzes the experience of gentrification for residents of two predominantly black New York City neighbourhoods. It thereby adds an important yet often overlooked perspective to debates on gentrification - the residents of formerly disinvested neighbourhoods themselves. Their perspectives suggest that neither gentrification is neither entirely threatening or redemptive for urban neighbourhoods. Rather, it can both offer a better life and threaten long-established communities. While residents appreciate the opportunities, they resent that it often takes full-scale gentrification to make their neighbourhoods nice. The concluding chapters of the book suggest ways for limiting the negative aspects of gentrification and new ways of thinking about gentrification and the inner city."
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:37 AM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think the best book for understanding what has happened in Manhattan is Bob Fitch's "The Assassination of New York". don't know about whether Fitch had other media...
posted by ennui.bz at 8:39 AM on April 2, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! This is all really helpful and I'm listening to that CNU podcast right now!

Another thing I thought of is that if you have any names of people who are big in all this (Kuntsler or Speck for example) let me know and I can just google them to see if there are radio interviews or lectures by them.
posted by minicloud at 9:06 AM on April 2, 2015

I studied urban studies in college, and read a lot about gentrification. This book was the best one I read, and I think does a really good job of analyzing all of the factors at play, and offering a somewhat dispassionate analysis of both sides of the debate, which is difficult to do. It reads like it is trying to be a textbook on the issue, although it actually leans to the left, which I think actually makes it even better. It's probably one of my top 5 favorite books, although at this point it is almost a decade old.

The book's author, Loretta Lees, appears to have done several lectures and interviews on related topics that you may be able to track down.
posted by likeatoaster at 10:01 AM on April 2, 2015

It's not audio, but it's fantastic and surprisingly readable: Greg Morrow's mammoth UCLA dissertation about urban planning in Los Angeles and the mid-century shift from top-down urban planning to community-driven planning (which happened in most North American cities, not just LA).

It covers a massive shift in LA housing policy, and the many unintended consequences including gentrification. This graph (p. 3) showing how much zoning has been ratcheted back is what caught my eye first.

He's a city planner in Calgary now, which gives me some hope for the future!
posted by ripley_ at 10:22 AM on April 2, 2015

Best answer: [Disclaimer: It wasn't until I was done with my comment that I realized you were specifically looking for AUDIO resources. My first two reccs are documentaries, but the rest are articles/texts. Apologies in advance for length!]

I studied urban anthropology in grad school (particularly arts districts and artist-led gentrification) so I really love this stuff. I'll do my best to dig deep and try to remember the sources that were especially engaging or thorough:

+ If you can get your hands on it, Episode 3 of the PBS Series "Race: The Power of an Illusion" covers basically the entire 20th century, focusing on the rise of the suburbs and how racist housing policies effectively reshaped the urban landscape (and created the wealth gaps we still see today).

+ Another great documentary, The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: The Pruitt-Igoe Myth explores the social, economic and legislative issues that led to the decline of conventional public housing in America, and the city centers in which they resided, while tracing the personal and poignant narratives of several of the project's residents.

+ Streets of Hope and Comeback Cities offer case studies about urban disinvestment and revival. The first takes place in Boston and looks at grassroots neighborhood revival; the latter covers the South Bronx and looks more at public policy.

+ I first heard about the concepts of spatial justice and spatial inequality during a lecture given by Julian Agyeman. His blog covers a TON of material and might lead you down some interesting paths. I especially like his book Incomplete Streets because it echoes a lot of the less accessible critical theory texts on urban development. Though by all means, if you are interested in this stuff, I could go on for DAYS.

Other great blog posts and articles:

The Politics of Spatial Inequality: In this memo, I briefly outline the older set of issues surrounding city/suburban divides in the United States and then turn to consider the new questions raised by the reorganization of people and place that has muddied this picture over the past twenty years.

Jane Jacobs and the Death and Life of American Planning: A look at the urban planning profession post Jane Jacob's (mother of the New Urbanism movement) seminal work The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Culture Class: Art, Creativity, Urbanism, Part I and Part II

Art, Gentrification and Regeneration – From Artist as Pioneer to Public Arts
posted by a.steele at 12:12 PM on April 2, 2015

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