NYT 6 7 2020

Infrastructures are commonly thought of as systems, facilities, services, relations, networks, and relationships, as well as the necessary interdependencies, which all cumulatively make a society sustain itself. Infrastructures of Inclusion are the types of infrastructures communities and civic groups build to catalyze and sustain processes of transformation—of themselves, their communities, and their societies—towards more diverse, democratic, just, and inclusive cities, based on the principle of “just distribution justly arrived at.”

The significance of ‘designing’ in this context is to suggest means of identifying and employing affirmative resources through which to address the scale of problems and opportunities we face, and of configuring new collaborative practices, as well as new ways of being and living together. ‘Designing’ hereby refers to the domains of professional practice, but equally so to the configurative capabilities of varied stakeholders in the above processes.

How does designing achieve that? In “Concurrent Urbanities: Designing Infrastructures of Inclusion,” I propose the following as points of departure:

—designing catalyzes dispositions and capacities for self-organization in urban communities where such capacities are not present;
—designing is employed as a vehicle for building capabilities for critical urban action by aggregating, synergizing, and coordinating existing urban initiatives and scaling them up;
—designing empowers the capabilities of the third sector organizations;
—it adds strategic capabilities to state and government agencies by enabling new connectivities and coalitions with the organizations of civil society and with community-based organizations alike;
—designing, as a collaborative and participatory process, enables the discovery of the very principle of just distribution which stands at the core of the ever-evolving concepts of social and urban justice;
—designing enables disambiguation, mobilization, or conceptualization of new and emerging forms of urban practice and knowledge.

Infrastructure is never only an ensemble of material things, its true character is always relational. In the intersecting contexts of social justice and infrastructures of inclusion, designing, after all, is a praxis of infrastructuring, of discovering and generating novel configurative possibilities by catalyzing processes of solidarity, cooperation, mutual aid, creative collaborations, leadership, and trust.

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