Beyond Zuccotti Park is a key component of a larger initiative—Democracy, Equity, and the Public Realm—which also includes a traveling multimedia exhibit, public forums, popular and academic study groups, policy advocacy, and a website. Book tours, forums, and exhibits are in planning for New York, Newark, Oakland/Berkeley, Chicago, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Boston. Together, the book and initiative aim to engage the public in questioning democracy and equity, building understanding, and improving the design, use, and access to public spaces for social inclusion and free creative expression.
The book and initiative launched mid-September, 2012, at the Center for Architecture in New York City, coinciding with the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 tragedies, the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, and the Worldwide Week of Peace. Beyond Zuccotti Park: Public Space Today took place at the Helfand Gallery September 10–22, with an opening and book launch on September 10, and a public symposium—Freedom of Assembly: Public Space Today, Part 3—on September 16. In the words of the initiative’s lead organizer Ron Shiffman, the project “aims to redress the inequalities that divide us and rebuild faith in our democratic institutions.”
Beyond Zuccotti Park and its constellation of projects are a collaboration of City College of New York School of Architecture and the Pratt Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment together with New Village Press and its parent organization, Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility. Project coordinators and collaborators are each distinguished, lifelong supporters of participatory civic process. The initiative was spawned by free public forums—Freedom of Assembly: Public Space Today—held at the Center for Architecture in response to the forced clearance of Occupy Wall Street activities from public plazas throughout the country. The first two recorded programs took place on December 17, 2011 and February 4, 2012.