“We also know that the neoliberal political and economic system is so deep inside our minds and inside our bodies that we cannot think of any solutions. And yet you see that sometimes people have actually managed to gather together, like in the Occupy Movement. But the question is: how do you create possibilities? How do you think about the future? And how do you connect these different groups of people?” – Matthias Klenner (TOMA)
This Friday Lunch, we at Group Melvin Design took a deep dive, and wrestled with some of the larger questions surrounding the work we do as Planners. When we began, we discussed systemic questions related to our recent work with pop-up design: who has power in public space? what larger power structures effected change in modern American cities? how do we stay mindful of providing a voice and opportunity to everyone, equally, in public space design interventions? how do we create the possibility for multiple outcomes, rather than designing for only one solution? how has commerce and political economy driven pop-up?
As our conversation progressed, we also discussed how these topics relate to other areas of the planning field. Observationally, it feels more common for these types of discussions to manifest when the outcomes are physical objects in space, and become open to critique by the public. But these topics are often less discussed when applied to planning documents. Through our conversation, we recognized that the implications of all of these questions continue to remain valid as they pertain to our work as master plan, redevelopment plan, and zoning authors. We discussed the planner’s role in bringing these questions to light in our conversations with clients, stakeholders, and other interested groups.
Like any good philosophical discussion, we didn’t arrive at any concrete conclusions or redesign the power structure of the United States, but the conversation reminded us a bit of why we entered this profession – we are hopeful. We see the opportunity in our field to effect change in a manner that is mindful of the intricacies and tensions that arise in post-liberal America. In the end, maybe we were all reminded that we are dreamers; we strive to do work that impacts our world in a manner that is positive and inclusive, and improves the lives of all people, and the environment to boot.
Interested in reading the article that made us have thoughts so deep our brains might drown? Click here!