EXCERPT: Spatial Justice and Socially Conscious Architecture


Liz Ogbu: I think now we're seeing in a lot of cities the process of gentrification, which has sort of been synonymous with the displacement of poor residence by wealthier new comers as the city which was abandoned as people moved out to the suburbs is now being seen as sexy again and people are moving back in and we're once again seeing a pattern where the poor end of people of color are being displaced. It's not that these areas don't need new services, new resources, new housing, but we should figure out a way to allow people to have the capacity to stay in their homes and in those communities rather than saying we're going to repeat the cycle of displacing people again.

Deanna Van B.: Gentrification and incarceration. You can't get section 8 housing if you've been formally incarcerated. And then in Oakland, there is no section 8 housing so people end up homeless. If you're incarcerated, you come back, people are already being displaced, you can't get section 8 housing so you just end up in the streets. In Oakland, our tent cities are blooming. This specific project is less restorative justice and more restorative economics.

Liz Ogbu: There are definitely some evil for-profit developers out there. I don't think that can be disputed. But, there are actually some who have a desire to do good and are open to a way that allows them to create something that is financially sustainable but also socially impactful. What they need is a strategic direction that will help them do that and it's not coming in and sort of waving the flag of the poor people. It's having an understanding of their goals and trying to work with them creatively to try and figure out how to make the numbers work. How do we make sure that we are also sustaining the community and how are we thinking intentionally about some of the things we're doing?

Deanna Van B.: When we build things, how can we start to build some of the histories back in? Is there a way that we can have the community come in and do an art piece that's integral to the project so that we understand what was here and who's still here? Who's here now? And what has happened in the past to make a mark on the land?


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