Building Futures for All of Us (Grassroots Action, Hope, and the Power To Reshape Our Communities)
The challenges facing planning and design at this moment are immense: Climate change, dismantling racism, decolonizing our institutions and ways of living, ending species annihilation. The urgency to act quickly and decisively is palpable. At the same time, the problems are overwhelming and the pathways to change slow. This presentation will explore and reflect on where optimism comes from in a troubled time using two critical moments for planning. I will first discuss grassroots efforts to place, reinterpret or remove monuments in public space as symbolic and material social justice initiatives, and then show everyday neighborhood adaptation in response to climate change in the Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana as visions for multiple futures. I will use these situations to explore how grassroots action can lead to hope and alternative ways of seeing possible futures as well as to reflect on how we might use our professions, as planners and designers, to change the institutions that enable or cause the challenges.
Renia Ehrenfeucht is a Professor and the Chair of the Community + Regional Planning Department at the University of New Mexico. She researches how people shape their local environments in rapidly changing places. Her recent research projects have included the politics of monuments and monument removal in public space, how residents living along the Gulf Coast are adapting to climate and environmental change, and gentrification in shrinking cities. Her publications include Sidewalks: Conflict and Negotiation in Public Space (with Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris), Urban Revitalization: Remaking Cities in a Changing World (with Carl Grodach) and numerous reports and journal articles.