Justice City

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From the s to the turn of the century, the use and development of the term spatial justice became almost exclusively associated with the work of geographers and planners in Los Angeles… and this takes me to my conclusions. I believe it can be claimed, although it is almost impossible to prove conclusively, that a critical spatial perspective and an understanding of the production of unjust geographies and spatial structures of privilege have entered more successfully into the strategies and activism of labor and community groups in LA than in any other US metropolitan region.


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Spatial strategies have played a key role in making Los Angeles the leading edge of the American labor movement and one of the most vibrant centers for innovative community based organizations. A court order was issued in that demanded that the MTA give first budget priority to the purchase of new buses, reduction of bus stop crime, and improvements in bus routing and waiting times.

Similar civil rights cases based on racial discrimination had been brought to court in other cities and failed. In LA, the notion of spatial and locational discrimination, the creation of unjust geographies of mass transit, was added to the racial discrimination arguments and helped to win the case. There are many complications to the story, but the end result was a shift of billions of dollars of public investment from a rail plan that would benefit the rich more than the poor, as is usually the case in the capitalist city, to an almost unprecedented plan that would benefit the poor more than the rich.

The bus network today is among the best in the country and is being used as a model of efficiency in other cities. Informed by Lefebvre and others espousing a critical spatial perspective, the local movement has been joined at the global scale by the World Social Forum, which in presented a World Charter of the Rights to the City. University of Minnesota Press, Culture and Imperialism. London: Vintage, Social Justice and the City. Athens: University of Georgia Press, On Spatial Justice, Environment and Planning. You can suggest to your library or institution to subscribe to the program OpenEdition Freemium for books.

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R KELLY Gotham City

La ville et la justice spatiale1. Affirmation Social Security Numbers. Answer and Instructions for Preparing. Court Interpreter Billing Invoice. Notice of Intent to Appear by Communications Equipment. Public Records Request Form.

Andhra Pradesh is building India’s first Justice City, Read to know all about it

Sealing of Records Informational Packet. Civil Summons, Affidavit of Service, Mailing. Affidavit Breach of Contract. Affidavit of Complaint for Eviction. Affidavit of Service of Eviction Notice. Sustainability is both an honorable goal for carefully defined purposes and a camouflaged trap for the well-intentioned unwary MARCUSE, , p. In his very influential book, Social Justice and the City , published forty years ago and still of great relevance in the face of widening urban inequalities produced by neoliberal capitalism, David Harvey , p. Without rejecting the need for an "ecological" revolution, a "green" urban transition seems impossible without a redistributive purpose, social justice, and social change.

This essay contends that social justice, as a claim and means for addressing equity deficits, has often been neglected in dominant sustainability discourses that drive the development of "greener" cities. To speak of social justice is not simply to demand a redistribution of environmental and economic opportunities but to recognize that some practices deemed 'sustainable' hide and aggravate already existing equity deficits. Social justice, in theory and in practice, seeks to alleviate and close these equity deficits without rejecting the promises of a more ecologically friendly or economically vibrant city.

To be skeptical of dominant sustainability discourses does not mean denying the possibilities of urban transitions and social change. A focus on social justice reveals the misleading balance depicted in the rhetoric of the three pillars of sustainability: economy, environment and society. The metaphor of the three pillars, often graphically depicted as three identical and slightly overlapping circles, three similar mutually chasing green arrows or three perfectly matching architectural columns, obscures the unequal relationships between the economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainability or other synonymous triads, such as profit, planet, people.

Despite their interdependence, social and environmental concerns appear more easily trivialized and marginalized at the profit of economic growth. Increasing poverty and the growing gulf between the "haves" and the "have nots", irreversible environmental changes, continuous resource depletion and the constant degradation of natural environments all demonstrate that sustainability as an integrated approach remains an ideological goal and a constant challenge.

By focusing on social justice, my objective is not only to point to deficiencies in the 'green' city model but also to insist on the possibility and necessity to bridge such gaps and hold the idea of sustainability to its professed goals. However, to hold sustainability to its ideals, social justice in the city must address past and continuing uneven development processes in urban spaces.

This is not a simple task given the accumulated social and environmental injustices in the city, and particularly in lower-income neighborhoods, which are rarely the objective of innovative green agendas. Social justice and urban sustainability are contested terms and may not always share compatible objectives, but their multiple and elastic meanings may nevertheless provide some room for overlap and significant change DOBSON, The paper then considers some gains in greener urbanism but contends that urban sustainability responses have generally been more preoccupied with ecological modernization and the reproduction of best practices rather than with socio-spatial justice.

Social justice in the city. Harvey , p. Additionally, this difference enables us to see how the production of a "common good" or "common bad" for that matter benefits or marginalizes particular groups and individuals in the city. For Harvey , p. Harvey describes social justice as a set of principles necessary for resolving conflicting claims arising from the social and institutional arrangements associated with production and distribution activities.

Harvey's particular contribution rests on the emphasis of both the distribution of opportunities and the rarely acknowledged social production of surpluses or scarcity in the city. Observing how surplus is distributed in "socially undesirable ways" for populations that additionally often bear the brunt of scarcity, Harvey , p. Drawing on Harvey , many urban scholars have attempted normative definitions of 'just' or 'good' city.

Susan Fainstein , contends that in the 'just city', justice should be the moral basis for urban planning. Urban justice, for Fainstein , , is based on the principles of diversity, democracy, and equity, and such principles ought to be considered and mindfully furthered in planning practices and policies. While emphasizing these principles, Fainstein recognizes the conflicting and even contradictory tensions between them but nevertheless insists that material equality, equal opportunity and recognition of difference are crucial in determining what is distributed and who benefits from such distribution.

In Fainstein's 'just city', justice intervention seeks equitable or redistributive outcomes for people through a critique of the dominant neoliberal approach to planning.

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Fainstein's urban theory of justice is therefore a call to redirect practitioners from neoliberal economic development to social equity. Fainstein specifically calls for considering social equity in the production of the city by illustrating equity deficits in empirical cases , but her focus is geared particularly toward the politics of urban growth and planning rather than toward Harvey larger conceptual formulations and capitalist economic processes i. The 'good city' is a sibling concept of the 'just city. Friedmann , similar to Fainstein , calls for planners to engage in the material and structural transformation of cities to address ongoing inequalities.

As in the 'just city', equity is the central foundation of the 'good city'. Thus, for Friedmann , p. However, such a right implies an intrinsic mutuality because, for Friedmann , p. Building on Friedmann, Ash Amin , p. For Amin , p. To do so, Amin argues for the right of all citizens to participate in urban life and to benefit from it in the form of "participative parity" FRASER, , p. What these normative attempts to define the 'just city' or the 'good city' have in common are the practice of justice, access, right, and redress of inequalities. While normative definitions are certainly problematic when they pretend a universality, the discussion around the 'just city' and the 'good city' seeks to address rather than occult urban injustices.

By articulating principles of social justice, equality and mutuality, the concepts of 'just city' and 'good city' clearly state the needs to review processes of urban planning production and distribution in order to alleviate its discriminatory effects and live up the ideals of equity and social justice. Similarly to others social justice scholars, the authors insisted that the achievement of social sustainability requires local institutions and governments to. Although a broad concept, social sustainability ought to be more than an element of the sustainability trialectics, adding social actors into the mix of more popularized discourses of environmental and economic sustainability.

In considering social sustainability as a challenge to exclusion and marginalization rather than a complementary instrument or component of a prosperous economy balanced with ecological integrity, social justice demands a rearticulation of the material processes of the city. Peter Marcuse insightfully notes that the current discourse of sustainability does not necessarily insure social justice - i.

Yet the prevalent tropes of social sustainability, such as empowerment, social cohesion, social capital, well-being and quality of life, resilience and livability have perhaps at times shifted our attention away from addressing persistent inequalities and democratic deficits. If social sustainability is to become more than rhetoric, social justice is required to redress the continuing marginalization that has long existed in racialized, low-income and immigrant communities and neighborhoods.

When speaking of diversity and difference in the city, it is tempting to conclude that what has been sustained over time, despite the best planning intentions of the past decades, is exclusion and marginalization. Such arrangements require institutional transformations that first question how such arrangements are produced and reproduce social exclusion and marginalization as well as environmental deterioration.

The sustainability of cities and the need to develop and foster an integrated holistic vision for urban sustainability has been generally promoted through a double discourse of urgency. On the one hand, the world has increasingly become urbanized with more than half of the world's population already living in cities. On the other hand, cities have often been seen as ecologically destructive, 'unnatural', and the antithesis of nature. Despite the growing scholarship examining cities and nature as interacting and inextricably connected processes - best captured by David Harvey claim that there is nothing 'unnatural' about New York City - the discourse of urban sustainability has been particularly focused on mitigating the detrimental and harmful effects of urban development KEIL, ; BRAUN, ; GANDY, Beatley refers to green urbanism as the practice of creating communities mutually beneficial to humans and the environment i.

Urban sustainability and green urbanism are also a call for urban planners and designers to do things differently. Prior to sustainability being naturalized into urban planning and policy in the s, early ecological activists and innovators e. For example, experimental architecture based on renewable sources of energy was a way to prove our technological ability to support human needs in the face of the finite resources of the planet.

Thus, ecological designers embraced sustainability for its ecological tenets and emphasized the obligation to redefine the relations between ecological systems and between people and the environment. Some conventional urban planning practices were slowly replaced by a greener, ecological, more sustainable rationality where environmental problems were often relegated to technological considerations. Such ecological modernization or sustainability fix approaches were perceived as the most efficient and effective use and management of resources but showed limited preoccupation with social and economic issues.

Often emphasizing the protection or restoration of ecological processes, ecological design through a sustainable or greening city agenda focused on solving problems "by changing the city, not by changing society" BRAUN, , p. In this sense, the greening of cities has often been considered "largely atheoretical and apolitical" BRAUN, , p. The ongoing difficulty of reconciling the social, economic and ecological imperatives of urban sustainability does not mean that there have not been some successful efforts or achievements in terms of greater energy efficiency, ecological processes restoration, and waste recycling.

Urban planning and design have long relied on historical precedence as a way of studying, comparing and conceiving plans. In recent years, many so-called 'best practices' of urban sustainability have been traveling as aspiring norms and inspiring benchmarks toward greater urban sustainability.

Numerous non-governmental organizations and transnational networks dedicated to the promotion of urban sustainability e.

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Many cities have used their green plans and developments as competitive advantages, positioning themselves as best practices to emulate. Ranking the greenest cities has become a growing popular global endeavor led by a multitude of actors, such as The Economist in collaboration with the technological company Siemens , Reuters Environmental forum , Organic Gardening and Globe Award , among many others. Urban sustainability has brought the beginning of a much needed ecological consciousness to urban planning related to energy consumption, integrity of habitats, green spaces, reuse and recycling materials, housing density, and levels of pollution of air and water, among other issues but best practices also represent a political rationality through which cities, organizations, and networks promote and legitimate their particular vision of urban sustainability.

Their hope is that their initiatives, programs, and agendas will inspire policy change elsewhere, notwithstanding local conditions or capacities. Little concern is given to the "underlying premises and beliefs, with processes of learning confined to those of lesson drawing" and the "consequent implications for the governing of urban sustainability" BULKELEY, , p. There are certainly some benefits to shared learning about urban sustainability's best practices to encourage a "sustainable" vision of cities. However, there are obvious difficulties linked to numerical measurement and ranking something as subjective, dynamic and evolving as cities.

The capacity of current assessment tools, indicators and indexes to measure the complexities of sustainability has also been increasingly contested. Davidson et al. As Davidson et al. Moreover, as Bulkeley , p. In the promotion of urban sustainability in national and international arenas, numerous initiatives and programs have been put in place to facilitate the creation and the dissemination of 'best practice' through which to promote policy transfer and learning.

However, despite the vast array of available best practices, little is known about the ways in which best practice is constructed, used, and contested, or of its implications for urban sustainability. The discourse of sustainability has been naturalized in cities, often at the detriment of local knowledge, particularly governance cultures, place-specific intricacies, and historical specificities.


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In the context of cities, 'sustainable' is often used interchangeably with a series of catchy, indefinite and equivocal terms, such as green, resilient, livable, healthy, happy, biodiverse, biophillic, and so forth. The predominant commitments of urban sustainability and green urbanism for renewable energy, zero waste, spatial mobility, ecosystem integrity, and food security all good things rarely name the pre-existing social inequalities and injustices that characterize cities. Work is certainly a crucial component of social inclusivity but it may not be sufficient to fully address social inequalities because, as Davidson et al.

If, as David Harvey , p. Urbanism as a social form is not limited to the built environment but also includes its actual mode of production. Too often, greening is limited to the form or outcome rather than a challenge to the market forces tapping into environmental sustainability rhetoric. Thus, key questions remain: what is sustained, and who benefits and loses from sustainability discourse and programs?