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January 25th

Erin Graves presents: Real Estate for Radicals

While a near consensus has developed in the US that there is a housing affordability crisis, it has done so while seemingly circumventing a debate about who deserves housing. The UN Declaration on Human Rights is quite clear on this point: housing is a human right and thus all humans deserve housing. This project, Real Estate for Radicals is case study based research on affordable community-owned housing -- co-ops, community land trusts, communes, and squats and their potential to advance housing as a human right. By studying 5 communities and their residents,, I will consider the extent to which these urban housing communities advance the principles of equality, liberation, and justice for the residents and the larger community. I profile the history, lived experiences of residents and explore whether community-owned housing could be a viable third way for those seeking a pause or even a break from market-driven real estate.

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Erin Graves is a Senior Policy Analyst and Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. She conducts research on housing and other policies that combat and create disadvantage. Erin received a Doctorate in Urban Planning and Sociology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Masters in Planning from the University of Illinois, Chicago. She has published numerous book chapters, white papers and in Housing Policy Debate, Journal of the American Planning Association, City & Community, Urban Education. She also manages the Visiting Scholar program at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

February 8th

Andrea Roberts presents: Countering Displacement through Collective Memory: Recovering African American Landscapes Using The Texas Freedom Colonies Project Atlas

In the decades following the Civil War, recently emancipated people created freedom colonies through intentional and tactical design, ensuring refuge from political repression and violence. However, most freedom colonies were founded in ecologically vulnerable landscapes, making them disproportionately susceptible to flooding and other natural disasters in the present day. This talk tracks the history of displacement and dispossession that has led to the destruction, neglect, or dismantling of communities initially designed to protect African Americans from structural racism. Then the author explains how these communities’ unique challenges require new planning and design tools to detect the interplay of historical and contemporary conditions contributing to the cultural erasure of African American placemaking. The Texas Freedom Colonies Project Atlas, the platform the author has developed to map and aggregate sociocultural emplaced data about these disappearing landscapes and crowdsources and spatializes intangible heritage on a publicly available map. The Atlas provides a mechanism by which the public can search, add, and view database contents that make visible previously unmapped or undocumented settlements. The Atlas’ stories, images, and documents constitute a collective memory of Black placemaking that enables advocates to argue that these historically significant places are worthy of preservation.

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Dr. Andrea Roberts is an Associate Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning and Co-Director of the School’s Center for Cultural Landscapes at the University of Virginia’s (UVA) School of Architecture. She is a scholar-activist who brings 12 years of experience in community development, nonprofit administration, and advocacy to her engaged research and public scholarship. In 2014, she founded The Texas Freedom Colonies Project, the vehicle through which she mentors and trains future planners, preservationists, scholars, and community-based researchers to challenge freedom colony invisibility, environmental injustice, and land loss through heritage conservation. Dr. Roberts is also the Consultant/Owner of Freedom Colonies Project, LLC, which provides research and DEIA services to preservation organizations. She served as a Texas State Board of Review member and a National Monument Audit Advisory Board member. Dr. Roberts holds a Ph.D. in planning from The University of Texas at Austin (2016), an M.A. in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania (2006), and a B.A. in political science from Vassar College (1996). She is currently authoring a book, Never Sell the Land, about her experiences identifying Black planning and historic preservation practices that sustain cultural resilience within freedom colonies for The University of Texas Press.

March 15th

Vikas Mehta presents: Public Space: Paradoxes, Possibilities, and Propositions

Public spaces are symbolic urban icons. Cities complete with their public spaces, often using them as tools for commodification to attract capital and labor. At the same time, public space is an expansive common social and material realm and the past decades have erased any doubts of the resurgence of public space in its political form. This is a good time to focus our attention on public space. The climate crisis, the systemic social injustices, and the COVID-19 pandemic demand a rethinking of our largest shared territory. Public space has the capacity, at least in part, to address these crises by being envisioned and manifest as a humane space of community, restoration, and emancipation. In this talk, based on his latest book, Vikas Mehta presents a panoramic view of public space: the inherent paradoxes, as well as the immense possibilities and propositions for a more constructive public space.

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Dr. Vikas Mehta, is the Fruth/Gemini Chair, Ohio Eminent Scholar of Urban/Environmental Design and Professor of Urban Design at the School of Planning, College of DAAP, University of Cincinnati. Dr. Mehta’s work focuses on the role of design and planning in creating a more responsive, equitable, stimulating, and communicative environment. He is interested in various dimensions of urbanity through the exploration of place as a social and ecological setting and as a sensorial art. This work emphasizes the sense of place and place distinctiveness, design and visualization of urban places, cities, and regions as just, equitable, and sustainable living systems. In his work, Dr. Mehta has developed new measures of sociability that have advanced existing methods to study human behavior in public spaces. Dr. Mehta has authored/co-authored and edited/co-edited 6 books and numerous book chapters and journal articles on urban design pedagogy, public space, urban streets, neighborhoods, retail, signage and visual identity, public space in the Global south and more. His first book, The Street: a quintessential social public space received the 2014 Book Award from the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) and was also a finalist for the 2014 Francis Tibbalds Award for Best Book of the Year. His most recent book Public Space: notes on why it matters, what we should know, and how to realize its potential was published by Routledge in 2022. Dr. Mehta holds degrees in architecture, urban design and city planning

April 5th

Yasminah Beebeejaun presents: Whose diversity? Race, space, and planning

European cities have increasingly highlighted diversity as a marker of their progressive status. A growing field of research argues that “super-diverse” neighborhoods exemplify a normalization of ethnic and racial difference as a positive facet of everyday life. However, contemporary manifestations of urban diversity cannot be disentangled easily from the European colonial legacy that underlies a series of racial and spatial imaginaries. In this talk I argue that the claimed reconfiguration of European cities as sites of normative diversity obscures the ongoing epistemological framing of Europe as white. Turning specifically to British cities I will illustrate how colonial racial narratives underpinned postwar urban planning and development and had profound consequences for the racialization of urban space. I argue that the European planning discipline must engage in a much more fuller engagement with its own colonial and racial history in order to reconceptulize what progressive urban diversity might look like.


Yasminah Beebeejaun is a Professor of Urban Politics and Planning at the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London. Her work is concerned with feminist and anti-racist approaches to planning theory and practice. Her articles have been published in many journals including Environment and Planning C, Journal of Planning Education and Research, Planning Theory, Planning Theory and Practice, and Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. She is co-editor of The Journal of Race, Ethnicity and the City.

April 12th

Steve Kadish & Barbara Kellerman presents: Results: Getting Beyond Politics to Get Important Work Done

Distilled into a four-step framework, Results is the much-needed implementation guide for anyone in public service, as well as for leaders and managers in large organizations hamstrung by bureaucracy and politics. With a broad range of examples, Baker, a Republican, and Kadish, a Democrat, show how to move from identifying problems to achieving results in a way that bridges divides instead of exacerbating them. They show how government can be an engine of positive change and an example of effective operation, not just a hopeless bureaucracy.

Results is not only about getting things done, but about renewing people's faith in public service. Demonstrating that government can work, is vital to ensuring the future of our democracy. The goal of this book is to demonstrate just that! This talk will invite Steve Kadish and Dr. Kellerman to discuss the book and other relevant insights to collaborative governance and changemaking.

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Steve Kadish has just stepped down after five years as a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government. Previously, Kadish served as Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s first Chief of Staff, where he helped shape and implement policy and operational improvements in key state agencies, working with the Governor’s cabinet, Massachusetts state legislature, and external stakeholders. Steve and Governor Baker co-authored: Results Getting Beyond Politics to Get Important Work Done A Leader’s Guide to Executing Change and Delivering Results. Published in May 2022 by Harvard Business Review Press.Prior to this appointment, Kadish served in a number of roles in the public and private sectors, including Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Northeastern University, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Dartmouth College, Director of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts Undersecretary for Health & Human Services, Massachusetts Assistant Secretary for Administration and Finance, Senior Vice President for Administration at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Associate Vice Chancellor of Operations at UMass Medical School, and Assistant Commissioner for Operations at Massachusetts Division of Medical Assistance (Medicaid). Steve served as a Special Advisor to the Massachusetts COVID-19 Command Center. Previously, he was appointed chairman of the Commission on the Future of Transportation by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to focus on the interrelationship of disruptive technologies, climate change, land use, and demographic trends. Steve has served on local boards related to mental health services and homelessness. He has also served as an advisor/consultant to World Bank and the World Health Organization on strategic initiatives and organizational development issues. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University and a Master of City Planning degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Barbara Kellerman was Founding Executive Director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School; the Kennedy’s School’s James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Leadership; and a member of the Harvard faculty for over twenty years. She is currently a Fellow at the Center. Kellerman has held professorships at Fordham, Tufts, Fairleigh Dickinson, George Washington, Uppsala, and Christopher Newport Universities, as well as at Dartmouth, and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. She also served as Director of Graduate Studies at Fairleigh Dickinson, and Director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Leadership at the University of Maryland.

April 26th

Aseem Inam presents: Co-Designing Publics: Radical Democracy and Transformative Urbanisms

Globally, contemporary cities face seemingly insurmountable challenges such as urban inequality, inadequate infrastructure, climate crisis, and increasingly, threats to democracy. In the face of such challenges, the Dr. Inam introduces the concept of "co-designing publics" by examining what lies at the potent intersection of the public realm and informal urbanisms. He defines the public realm as interconnected spatial and political networks of public spaces that weave a city together, while informal urbanisms are the transactional conditions of ambiguity that exist between what is acceptable and what is unacceptable in cities. At their intersection are publics, who never simply exist because they are always created. In fact, publics are co-designed [i.e. co-created in inventive and multifarious ways] around common concerns or desire through volitional inquiry and action. He contextualizes these discussions by paying particular attention to the cities of the global south, because place matters in shaping urban thinking and practice. There is an increasing interest in thinking and practicing from cities of the global south rather than just about them. He then describes how these ideas are being further investigated through case studies in cites around the world and articulated through interactive events in the Co-Designing Publics International Research Network. He concludes with thoughts on the profound implications of co-designing publics for radical democracy and transformative urbanisms.

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Dr. Aseem Inam is Professor and Inaugural Chair in Urban Design at Cardiff University in the UK. Dr. Inam is also the Founding Director of TRULAB: Laboratory for Designing Urban Transformation, a pioneering research-based practice first established in New York City. As a Principal Investigator, he is currently leading multiple funded research projects, including "Co-Designing Publics: [Re]Producing the Public Realm via Informal Urbanisms," "The Prismatic City: Surprising Insights from Las Vegas into the True Nature of Contemporary Urbanism," and "Designing an Equitable City: Confronting Gentrification in Creative Pedagogy." In addition to numerous award-winning book chapters, journal articles, and professional reports, his books include Planning for the Unplanned: Recovering from Crises in Megacities, and Designing Urban Transformation. He is the editor of the forthcoming book to be published by ORO Editions International, Co-Designing Publics, which further expands on the work presented in this talk. He has collaborated with communities as an urban activist and practitioner in Brazil, Canada, France, Greece, Haiti, India, Morocco, United Kingdom, and United States.

All colloquia are held via Zoom webinar from 12:00-1:00 pm ET

Recordings will be made available after the presentation

Spring 2023


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