June 19, 2020 Event Recap

From the Epicenter: Infrastructures of Inclusion
Brian McGrath & Miodrag Mitrasinovic, with Kelly Shannon, Paola Vigano and Bruno DeMeulder

From our perspective as architects, urbanists, educators and students in New York City, at the epicenter of the Coronavirus epidemic, the urgency of critical transformative action has now become inescapable. It is now evident that the design of (new) infrastructures of inclusion, cooperation, and solidarity ought to be our primary and urgent task.

Our shared Transatlantic educational and research project, Urbanisms of Inclusion (2010-14), sought to address the inequities and injustices of the last four decades of global development and economic growth policies, the antisocial turn in planning and design practices, and planetary-scale environmental destruction. Hundreds of individuals—students, faculty, researchers, staff, and new collaborators in our academic network—have enthusiastically maintained much of our collective research over the years through personal and small-group exchanges. The long-term benefits of the Urbanisms of Inclusion project are too numerous to list here, and include PhD dissertations, new professional practices, innovative interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, conferences and publications. 

Given the imminent global equity, climate and health crises we are facing, and the unprecedented scale of response needed to counter it, we are proposing to re-engage all participants in this new project under the umbrella title “Infrastructures of Inclusion.” The idea is to solidify our platform for learning and exchange, and employ it to co-produce a manifesto-like, collective response to the present crisis. We would also like to use the web-platform as a living archive of the work of the participants, during and after the Urbanisms of Inclusion project, specifically in relation to the present crisis. This initiative doesn’t have to imply additional work for you, it could be also understood as a way of adding another critical layer to our work by inter-linking existing projects and initiatives, and giving them additional significance and reach. 

Finally, we invite you to contribute to an open blog platform and participate in a Zoom conference, “Infrastructures of Inclusion” at 10AM EST on June 19. We would like to develop its agenda collaboratively, and below propose an initial set of themes and questions to get us started.

Initial Themes for the Conversation:

  • Public health ecologies
  • Socio-economic disparities (it hits poor and “minorities” harder)–spatial distribution of wealth and privilege–stay at home luxury–class, race, gender
  • Underprivileged groups linked to public space for sustenance
  • The commons
  • Public goods and infrastructure
  • The impact of COVID-19 on poor and densely populated urban areas, on informal settlements and slums worldwide, on refugees, internally displaced people and migrants
  • Creative responses to the crisis (design, art, solidarity economies)
  • The new rise of gated communities and decline of population in high-density urban territories
  • Urbanism post-COVID19