Questioning the Privileges of Tactical Urbanism

Does tactical urbanism too-often benefit the point of view of a privileged population, leaving behind more pressing needs?
May 16, 2014, 12pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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In a recent article, Barbara Ray pushes back on tactical urbanism, citing evidence that such acts of DIY "resistance" reflect the preference of a privileged few, which may not always be welcome.

Ray cites a study by Gordon C. C. Douglas, called "Do-It-Yourself Urban Design" from the 2013 issue of City and Community. According to Ray, Douglas finds a strong sense of self-entitlement ("most of these DIYers are white and educated, what Richard Florida would call the 'creative class'"). In fact, writes Douglas, "They’re making changes to their community based in large part on one's own preferences. At a minimum, 'we're not hurting anybody' is a pretty common sentiment."

Ray goes on to describe cases in Brooklyn and New Orleans where examples of tactical urbanism were not received as warmly as participants had expected and imply that such efforts often occur to the detriment of large problems like affordable housing, public education, and poverty.

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Published on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 in The University of Chicago Urban Network
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