march 5: urban poverty (and why it’s so hard to fix)

matthew desmond, “eviction and the reproduction of urban poverty”  (he’s famous! 2 years ago, he penned this op-ed: “the eviction economy“) [[this part is not required, but if these readings leave you feeling like you want  some answers, you can take a look at desmond’s conclusion (apologies for the poor scanning!) to his new book which just came out this week. you can also take a look at the organization he recently started: just shelter]]

a somewhat recentish ny times article about the return of the “culture of poverty” thesis: “‘culture of poverty’ makes a comeback”


march 7: homelessness, poverty, public places, and the conflicts thereover…

teresa gowan, excerpts from hobos, hustlers, and backsliders: homeless in san francisco: 2 chapters: “word on the street” and “the old runaround”


from this week’s NYTIMES: “a bright light dimmed in the shadows of homelessness

++++++++++++for the draft workshop++++++++++

some things to remember:

1) class starts at 12:15. be there on time! because punctualness is next to godliness.

2) linus, your teacher, will not be there on time, because he’s going to be on the radio.

3) that means that the first part of class will be student driven. wheee!

4) we decided as a class yesterday (although not by consensus, so apologies to those whose voices were not heard), that y’all would spend the first part of class working on your first assignment. this will be “lightly organized” by ian (why? because, like the man he is, he asked!), but the responsibility will fall mostly on each and every one of you.

5) i propose the following structure
i) start off as pairs. you can, as lily suggested, organize based on how far along you are (that is, different parts of the room can be for different stages, and then you can select from those in a similar place as you).
ii) bring in some version of your image(s) (either hard copy or on screen). have the other person look at it first and record what they see. then compare/contrast/etc. this can take about 10-15 minutes (or whatever is needed).
iii) the pairs can merge into larger groups (foursomes, perhaps), and then talk more — take advantage of this opportunity to get feedback, ask questions, conspire against your professor, etc. (another 15 minutes?)
iv) still have time? perhaps come together as a full group and do one of 2 things: continue to discuss assignment (common struggles, things that remain maddeningly obscure, technical solutions to share, etc.) until your tardy teacher finally shows AND/OR start talking about the gowan reading on homelessness, so that you can dazzle your teacher with all your insights when he finally decides do show up.

[remember: be constructive and helpful in your responses to other students’ work (and to yours!).]

6) linus arrives and we use the remaining time to talk about the readings as well as address any concerns/issues that arose during the draft workshop.

things to keep in mind for tomorrow:
A) pick your case (article and image) by class tomorrow. even if you’re not sure and might change your mind, come in with something that you are interested in. otherwise, it won’t work too well.

B) some people have expressed concern that the text they find interesting is not matched with a particularly rich image, and have asked if they can be a bit more flexible about matching text to image. my answer: okay, but be clear about how/why you are making this choice and be able to justify it. the default is that they are a package deal, but there’s room for improvisation if you need it.

C) consider the text and image on 2 different levels: what is the story and what is the theory? the story is: this happens, this happens, this happens, the end. the theory is: this happens because of this, which then causes this, culminating in that. (i.e., the theory is an explanatory framework not just a description that “this is what happens in a city)

D) class readings are a good place to look for theory! on the one hand, we haven’t covered a lot of specific ground in the readings so far, so the chance that there is a perfect match is not large. on the other hand, the general frameworks can provide a useful tool (is this a story of subcultures? of disorganization? of political economy? of segregation? you’d be amazed at how modular these theories can be. that’s how theory works!)


march 12:  (pol)ice cold!

  • wilson & kelling, “broken windows” (referenced in the gowan chapters, this is the “classic” piece often cited to justify “quality of life” oriented policing, as made famous in nyc under guiliani)
  • jill loevy, “underpolicing black america” [loevy wrote the book ghettoside which is a much longer elaboration of this point. it’s pretty good (a little “white savior-ish” but makes strong points), but it’s hard to excerpt so this short article will do that job]
  • stopping and frisking… pivot to video–> “the hunted and the hated”! (13 minutes. watch if you want or you could read this general sociology of stop and frisk overview, which incorporates same video). also, if you interested, stop and frisk and mental health.


march 14: disaster strikes!

  • eric klinenberg, “denaturalizing disaster: the social autopsy of the 1995 chicago heat wave” —   exciting! only one thing to read for today! (it is on the long side, though…) look for how many of the various issues we’ve discussed come together during these several hot days in chicago ++++++ sometimes jstor can be tricky when it comes time to print. if you have problems, you can use this alternate link. (note: this is the same reading, only a different location)

XXXXX exxxxxtra stuff XXXXXX
the book that came out of this study, heatwave, became a “bestseller” (at least by sociology standards), and even inspired a play.

if you want to keep thinking about policing (and changing the current status quo), you can find all kinds of resources here: campaign zero. also, there’s the work of sociologist alex vitale, “the end of policing” (interview). hey, even national geographic is getting into the act, with a story about “driving while black” in their latest issue.


march 19: sex(uality and gender) in (public) space

++++++++++optional stuff!!!!+++++++++++++

  • a recent story from the nytimes about manspreading (which raises several questions about how private space is created and destroyed in urban places, as well as the power/limitations of using photography as activsm)


march 21: rethinking public space